Concept maps are a visual way to organize and represent information. In this literature discussion, we introduce a novel technique for teaching literature analysis to students where concept maps are used for establishing relationships between the key ideas, theories, procedures, and methods of a proposed literature article. Using the article “Compositionally Tunable Cu2ZnSn(S1-xSex)4 Nanocrystals: Probing the Effect of Se-Inclusion in Mixed Chalcogenide Thin Films” (Riha, S.C.; Parkinson, B.A.; Prieto, A.L. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 15272-15275.) as a case study, students are asked to identify the key terminology related to the synthesis, properties, analysis, and application of semiconductor nanoparticles and are tasked to develop a concept map interrelating important conceptual ideas and results.
LG1: Identify key words that describe aspects synthesis, applications, properties, and analysis
LG2: Create a concept map by identifying how the key words are related
- packs of sticky notes
- 3’x5’ poster paper or large sticky note pads
Students will be asked to read the paper before class and write down some key words and terms. There is an attached student handout to facilitate this process; this document briefly describes concept maps to students and gives three larger categories for students to begin grouping their key terms.
(The in-class activity may be implemented in a variety of ways to meet your classroom needs. Here we suggest a model conducive for small group work.)
Begin with a class discussion about the terms or ideas that were found while reading the paper. As a group you might want to place these ideas into one of the three categories: synthesis, analysis, or properties. (Perhaps come up with several more at this point.) Students may then break into smaller groups and focus on one category (if you have a large class, you may choose to have multiple groups for each category). Provide each group with sticky notes and instruct them to write one term on each sticky note (a dry-erase board or large poster paper can also be used in place of sticky notes). They should begin constructing a concept map for this category. Ask students to consider the relationship between any concepts that are connected by lines and perhaps to write a short phrase that describes this relationship.
When these groups have developed the section of the concept map in some detail, bring the class back together to construct the larger concept map integrating the individual maps prepared by each group. Begin to think about the inter-connection of concepts within different categories.
There is a related learning object with discussion questions related to this paper, which may be used as a problem set for homework, guidance for discussion, or a wrap-up activity.
**NOTE** The goal of this learning object is to create a concept map for this article. One example of a concept map for this article has been provided in the instructors information. However, it must be noted that the map generated by your class will not necessarily be identical to the one that has been provided. It is expected that there will be variations between the different concept maps generated.
We have currently not evaluated this method. We believe that this method could be generalized to examine any literature article. As we test this LO, we will post our assessment data.
The related LO, Tuning the band gap of CZT(S,Se) nanocrystals by anion substitution, contains discussion questions on the article that can be used for additional evaluation. We have also developed questions that we believe would use this concept map specifically. We would enjoy comments on how these two related LOs are being used and assessing whether concept mapping helps students understand literature articles.