His current research work includes studies on student’s ideas on learning and epistemology, and methods of applying educational ideas and tools (such as concept mapping) in corporate settings and distance learning programs. Present work includes the development of ‘expert” concept maps to “scaffold’ learning, using Cmapping with Internet and other resources, providing A New Model for Education. A new project is underway to explore ways to use concept maps together with brain imaging strategies to help discern brain functioning.
Concept maps were developed in 1972 in the course of Novak’s research program at Cornell where he sought to follow and understand changes in children’s knowledge of science (Novak & Musonda, 1991). During the course of this study the researchers interviewed many children, and they found it difficult to identify specific changes in the children’s understanding of science concepts by examination of interview transcripts. This program was based on the learning psychology of David Ausubel (1963; 1968; Ausubel et al., 1978).
The fundamental idea in Ausubel’s cognitive psychology is that learning takes place by the assimilation of new concepts and propositions into existing concept and propositional frameworks held by the learner. This knowledge structure as held by a learner is also referred to as the individual’s cognitive structure.
Out of the necessity to find a better way to represent children’s conceptual understanding emerged the idea of representing children’s knowledge in the form of a concept map. Thus was born a new tool not only for use in research, but also for many other uses.