Comparison of the reliability and validity of scores from two concept‐mapping techniques

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This paper reports the results of a study that compared two concept-mapping techniques, one high-directed, fill-in-the-map, and one low-directed, construct-a-map-from-scratch. We examined whether: (1) skeleton map scores were sensitive to the sample of nodes or linking lines to be filled in; (2) the two types of skeleton maps were equivalent; and (3) the two mapping techniques provided similar information about students' connected understanding. Results indicated that fill-in-the-map scores were not sensitive to the sample of concepts or linking lines to be filled in. Nevertheless, the fill-in-the-nodes and fill-in-the-lines techniques were not equivalent forms of fill-in-the-map. Finally, high-directed and low-directed maps led to different interpretations about students' knowledge structure. Whereas scores obtained under the high-directed technique indicated that students' performance was close to the maximum possible, the scores obtained with the low-directed technique revealed that students' knowledge was incomplete compared to a criterion map. We concluded that the construct-a-map technique better reflected differences among students' knowledge structure.