Application of concept maps as an assessment tool in engineering education: Systematic literature review

Alexandra Jackson, Elise Barrella, Cheryl Bodnar

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    3 Scopus citations


    Background: Concept maps are a valid assessment tool to explore student understanding of diverse topics. Many types of academic programs have integrated concept mapping into their courses, resulting in various activities and scoring methods to understand student perceptions. Purpose: Few prior reviews of concept mapping have addressed their use within engineering education. This systematic literature review examines articles that use concept mapping as an assessment tool in engineering education contexts and provides suggestions for future research. Scope/Method: We conducted a literature search using terms related to concept map and engineering education. Articles were screened by their title, abstract, section, and then full paper, resulting in 53 articles for the final review. Two researchers examined the topic, activity type, and scoring method of the maps. Results: Concept mapping topics fit into three categories, and the activity structures fit into four types. Of seven scoring methods, “Traditional” was the most used. Studies that compared multiple scoring methods showed that the “Holistic” and “Categorical” methods were better able to capture the content of the maps. All types of scoring demonstrated positive outcomes, suggesting that concept maps can demonstrate understanding of the topic and can assess learning. Conclusions: Concept maps have been applied in a number of ways. All types of concept mapping scores were shown to be useful and can lead to a better understanding of the students' learning outcomes. However, more research is needed to determine which scoring methods are recommended for specific applications.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalJournal of Engineering Education
    StateAccepted/In press - 2023

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Education
    • General Engineering


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