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MirandaNet Fellowship Casestudy
Proposal: Personal Meaning Mapping (PMM):
An Assessment Method for Constructivist Learning
Year of posting: 2006
Abstract:Much of what we understand about learning is based on a Positivist approach. However, recent research shows that learning is a relative and constructive process. Every learner has different learning experiences and cognitive frameworks. In other words, learning is a highly personal process to each individual learner. Consequently, it is difficult to assess the result of a learning process.
Personal Meaning Mapping (PMM) is designed by John H. Falk and his colleagues in order to assess how learning experiences affect individual’s meaning making process. According to him, PMM is developed in order to complement deficiencies of Concept Mapping. Falk argues that Concept Mapping, despite its utility to illuminate the complexity of a learning process, has two deficiencies: requirement of a pre-training of interviewees; and its positivism and reductionism in data analysis.
The data collection of PMM consists of two sets of interviews: ‘pre’ and ‘post’ experience interviews. Before the learning experience, interviewees are given a ‘prompt’, the key word, on a blank paper. Then, they are encouraged to write or draw anything the prompt reminds of. Then, the interviewer asks questions about the reasons for the responses and writes them on the same paper. After the experience, another interview is conducted on the same paper. Every step of the interview is marked in different colours.
The data analysis of PMM is processed by the following four steps: Extend, Breath, Depth and Mastery. Extend looks at the change of the amount of appropriate vocabulary being used. Breath counts the number of the appropriate concepts used. Depth is to mark the richness of individual’s responses in four or five point scales. Lastly, Mastery investigates understanding in a holistic approach. The result of these four steps of the analysis compares pre and post experience responses in order to understand the effect of individual’s learning experiences.
PMM is a simple and powerful method to measure and understand individual’s learning. It illustrates the learning process within and among individuals. However, despite Falk’s criticism of positivist approaches, PMM still seems to have a positivistic aspect in data analysis.
meaning mapping, PMM, learning, assessment, constructivism
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