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Welcome, welcome! This week, we’re chatting about new research looking at graphic organizers, such as concept-mapping. Specifically, we’re hoping to answer the following:

  • Does training intensity impact concept-mapping effectiveness?
  • Can technology-assisted graphic organizers improve performance?

Mapping & Metacognition 🗺️

Metacognition and self-regulation are closely related concepts (i.e., metacognitive awareness drives self-direction in learning). Thus, in the world of asynchronous learning, metacognitive awareness is crucial to improving self-regulation. Prior work has shown a relationship between concept mapping (CM) and learning, retention, metacognition, and self-regulated learning.

Concept-mapping is an excellent way to organize thoughts, understand the current level of knowledge, etc. Learners come to understand their own levels of knowledge when creating CMs, as they may have difficulty connecting concepts to one another - which indicates a lack of understanding. If you’re not *super familiar* with concept maps, UNC Chapel Hill’s breakdown is helpful! I’m also a fan of using Miro for virtual concept maps - they also have a quick intro that I find helpful. Considering the complex nature of concept mapping, it may require training to reach its full potential regarding metacognition. This study explored that idea by seeking to understand if CM training is important to improve metacognitive skills (Welter et al., 2022).

The learners were split into three different training conditions: T++ (extensive CM training with additional scaffolding and feedback), T+ (CM training without extra scaffolding or feedback), and T- (control training on common learning strategies). The learners had 3 weeks of training and then a 1 week learning phase, which consisted of learning about cell biology using CM strategies. After the learning phase, learners made metacognitive judgments of learning (JOLs) - this just asked learners to estimate what percent of the information they would remember a week later. The idea with JOLs is that learners with a percentage close to the actual remembered knowledge show high metacognitive awareness! Then, a week later, learners were tested on their declarative and structural knowledge; conceptual knowledge was tested a week after that due to organizational reasons (Welter et al., 2022). See image for a visual of the study timeline.

Welter et al. (2022)

Overall, results showed that “higher CM training intensity related to more accurate JOLs” for declarative and structural knowledge (Welter et al., 2022). This indicates that scaffolding and performance feedback helped learners to more accurately assess their learning, i.e., improved metacognition (Welter et al., 2022). Although asking learners to use specific learning strategies, such as concept maps, is helpful, actually providing more detailed training on the strategy can push that metacognition a bit further along!

Key Takeaway(s): While concept-mapping is an incredibly useful tool for improving metacognition and learning, providing explicit training on concept-mapping may boost that even more! According to the results of this study, more intensive concept-mapping training can further metacognitive skills beyond a simple or control training.

Read More (Open): Welter, V. D. E., Becker, L. B., Großschedl, J. (2022). Helping Learners Become Their Own Teachers: The Beneficial Impact of Trained Concept-Mapping-Strategy Use on Metacognitive Regulation in Learning. Education Sciences, 12(5), 325.

 “The AQSR approach guided learners to conduct reflection, which enabled them to think from diverse perspectives, make reflections, and improve the graphic organizers. During such a process, learners are more willing to gain and understand relevant knowledge." - Chang & Hwang (2022)

Question & Reflection ❓

Considering the need to assist learners in building metacognition, self-regulation, etc. with online learning, researchers evaluated a training approach to using a technology assisted graphic-organizer (Chang & Hwang, 2022). The training approach was made to guide learners through “Annotation, Questioning, Summarization, and Reflection (AQSR)” to “gain knowledge” and “organize learning content” (Chang & Hwang, 2022).

The ASQR approach guides learners through steps to assist with annotation, questioning concepts, summarizing, and reflecting. Annotation points learners to “write down the important factors of the diagnostic cases” and to “draw the first layer of the graphic organizer,” as well as prioritizing the steps to “indicate the conceptual relationships” (Chang & Hwang, 2022). Questioning has learners mark concepts that they don’t understand and those that they want to know more about. It also guides them to bring up questions to discuss with peers. Summarization has learners revise the graphic organizer “based on what they have learned and discussed” (Chang & Hwang, 2022). Reflection, the final component, has learners “extend the graphic organizer vertically” with examples and subconcepts, prompts them to add horizontal relationships, and guides them with examining the organizer to understand if re-organization is necessary.

To evaluate this approach, researchers conducted a study with new nursing staff taking a professional training program on clinical cases. The experimental group used the AQSR approach, while the control group used a “conventional graphic-organizer approach” (Chang & Hwang, 2022). All learners completed a learning achievement pre-test, aptitude questionnaire, and case analysis pre-test. The 4 day training period came next, with one class using the AQSR approach. Upon completion of the training, all learners completed a learning achievement post-test, learning aptitude questionnaire, and the case analysis post-test (Chang & Hwang, 2022).

Overall, results illustrated the AQSR approach lead to higher achievement, analyzing abilities, and learning aptitude. Similar to Welter et al. (2022), the AQSR approach showcases how important scaffolding (or layering) can be! While learning tools can be amazing, it’s important to ensure learners know how to use them effectively. The findings here provide a great foundation for understanding how to implement learning tools into professional settings.

Key Takeaway(s): Graphic organizers can be effectively implemented into professional training and improve learning achievement, analyzing abilities, and aptitude! It’s important, however, to teach learners how to use these tools (see: Welter et al., 2022). The authors’ annotation, questioning, summarization, and reflection (AQSR) approach illustrates great promise as a framework.

Read More ($): Chang, C. C., & Hwang, G. J. (2022). A structured reflection-based graphic organizer approach for professional training: A technology-supported AQSR approach. Computers & Education, 183.

Events (from our inbox)

Reader Hasmik D. sent us a very cool event coming up that readers may be interested in (one is today)!

"Applications for a new Mid-scale Research Infrastructure (RI) Incubator program are currently open! This is an exciting grant opportunity to support STEM education research made available by a first-of-its-kind partnership between the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and the Walton Family Foundation.

NSF’s Mid-scale program is designed to support projects that build the tools and capacity for cutting edge research that can lead to major scientific breakthroughs. This iteration of the program is targeting STEM education research and development.

Each winning team of an incubator grant will receive $500,000 for two years of funding. After those two years, winning teams will be eligible to apply for Mid-scale proposals worth up to $100 million to implement their plans. We invite teams from higher education, K-12 education, nonprofits, foundations, startups, and other affiliations to apply, especially those who have not previously pursued large-scale funding opportunities.

To apply, teams must develop a proposal that identifies how their Mid-scale research infrastructure efforts will enhance STEM education and help make it more equitable for all students. This includes research on the learning needs of students who have historically faced barriers to high-quality STEM education and work.

There are two separate application deadlines for incubator proposals: September 1, 2022 and March 1, 2023. NSF will conduct two webinars to answer questions about this DCL. You can register in advance for these webinars below:

If you have an idea about how to utilize research to promote equity in U.S. STEM education, we invite you to consider applying for one of these opportunities!

Please visit this page to learn about the application process. If you have additional questions, please contact NSF at"

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

Reader Alana S. shared a handsome fella with us!! Meet Bruce, "a 9 month old miniature dachshund who’s personality is bigger than his body."

Send us your pet pics at

Wondering why we’re including animal photos in a learning science newsletter? It may seem weird, we admit. But we’re banking on the baby schema effect and the “power of Kawaii.” So, send us your cute pet pics -- you’re helping us all learn better!

The LSW Crew

Learning Science Weekly is written and edited by Katie Erhardt, Ph.D.

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