Effects of the use of thematic organizers in conjunction with concept mapping on learning, misconceptions, and retention in middle school science class

Sandra L Keown, Tennessee State University


This study was devised to determine effects of the use of interactive thematic organizers and concept maps in middle school science classes during a unit study on minerals. The design, a pretest-posttest control group, consisted of matched groups (three experimental groups and one comparison group). It also included a student survey assessing qualitative aspects of the investigation. The 67 6th-grade students and one science teacher who participated in the study were from an independent K-12 school. Students represented a normal, well-distributed range of abilities. Group I (control) proceeded with their usual method of studying a unit—reading aloud the text and answering workbook questions. Group II worked with interactive thematic organizers, designed to activate prior knowledge and help students make inferences about target concepts in three treatments. Group III created three interactive concept maps, which represented both understandings and misconceptions. Concept maps were reviewed and repaired as students completed each treatment. Group IV participated in both thematic organizer and concept map treatments. Statistical analyses were determined through a pretest and a delayed recall posttest essay for all four groups. Two scores were assigned—one quantitative raw score of correct explicit answers and one rubric score based on the quality of interpretive responses. Group II also received scores for thematic organizer responses. Group III received rubric scores for concept maps. Group IV received all possible scores. Paired t-tests reported comparisons of scores across the treatment groups. A linear regression indicated whether or not concept map misconceptions affected posttest scores. Finally, an ANCOVA reported statistical significance across the four treatment groups. Findings of data analysis indicated statistically significant improvement in posttest scores among students in the three experimental groups. Students who participated in both treatments represented the highest scores among the four groups. Results of the ANCOVA indicated there was statistically significant difference in scores among the four treatments. Recommendations were made to further investigate development of interactive thematic organizers with student-chosen hyperlinks to concepts, as well as a recommendation that researchers investigate teacher understandings of interpretive purpose and form in the creation of thematic organizers.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Literacy|Reading instruction|Science education

Recommended Citation

Sandra L Keown, "Effects of the use of thematic organizers in conjunction with concept mapping on learning, misconceptions, and retention in middle school science class" (2008). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3341861.