Probing for Students’ Understanding in Chemistry: Using Multiple Approaches (Part Three: Concept Cartoon & Concept Map)

1. Concept Cartoon

Concept cartoon could be used to probe students’ understanding through interactive pictures with limited words. According to Keogh and Naylor (1999), there are three elements on the concept cartoon: 1) visual images, 2) minimal written language, 3) present alternative concept or questions relating to one central topic, 4) applying scientific ideas within everyday situations. According to Keogh and Naylor (1996), motivate and engage students through concept cartoon is major advantage of applying concept cartoon in science classroom. Moreover, this approach stimulates and challenge students’ thinking on their alternative conceptions. Students will evaluate their conceptions through representation of different alternative conceptions in concept cartoon. As a result, they will not feel shy, fear or being judged because the character on the cartoon could be represent their conceptions. The other advantage is stimulating students with minimal prompting from the teachers to discover the acceptable scientific ideas. This is an example of cartoon in chemistry topic which can be applied through Power point presentation or using OHP.


Figure 2. Concept Cartoon on Chemistry

However, within the limitation of resources, teachers could use paper with cartoon on it. In this approach, teachers’ creativity is challenged to create the interesting cartoon and strategies to represent it. Moreover, teachers also need to be aware of misunderstanding could be happened when students only focus on the cartoons, not on the content itself. Therefore, integrate cartoon approach with questioning and discussion will help teacher to identify this problem.

2. Concept Map

Concept map is a tool to investigate organisation of learners’ cognitive structure which is developed by Novak and Gowin ( Regis, Albertazzi, & Roletto, 1996). According to White and Gunstone (1992), concept map is applied to investigate students’ thinking about the relationship between the concepts or ideas. Concept map can help students to find the relationship between the knowledge which lead to meaningful learning experiences rather than memorise the concepts (Pendley, Bretz, & Novak, 1994). Once students understand the concepts, they will find easy to create the concept map about the topic. Therefore, it helps the teacher to probe student’ understanding, especially for the big class size which takes time to evaluate students’ understanding through writing or essays. Table 3. bellow shows the procedures and the purpose of using concept map (White & Gunstone, 1992)

Table 3. Purposes, Procedures and Recommendations of Using Concept Map

Concept Maps Approach


Procedures (an Example)

Recommendations for Teachers

· Exploring understanding within the limited aspects of the topic

· Investigate students’ understanding by asking the explanation of their concept map

· Probe students’ understanding on the relation between each concepts

· Probe students’ understanding by asking them to choose the key concept

· Identify students’ learning process through changes of their concept map

· Promote the discussion


· Create cards which consist of several terms on one topic (simple topic)

· Arrange the cards which is shown the relationship

· Create the links (using lines)

· Ask student to create their own concept map

· Begin with simple topic

· Create one in front of the class as an example

· Encourage students to create all possible links

· Give suggestion on students’ first concept map which is unlikely good

· Emphasis to students there are no right or wrong concept maps

This an example of applying concept map in teaching and learning chemistry on the topic of chemical reactions for Secondary School in Indonesia.


Figure 3. Concept Map for Secondary Level in Indonesia


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