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concept maps, effectiveness, science achievement, elementary and secondary education, meta-analysis


This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of concept maps on science achievement among elementary and secondary education students, including low-achieving students. A systematic search located 55 studies about concept mapping in science achievement published in peer-reviewed journals and dissertations between 1980 and 2020. We extracted 58 independent standardized mean difference effect sizes from 55 eligible studies involving 5,364 students from Grade 3 to Grade 12 who used concept maps to learn physics/earth science, chemistry, and biology that met the specified design criteria. A random-effects model meta-analysis revealed that the mean effect size was moderate for overall science (g = 0.776). The mean effect sizes varied from moderate to large based on the subject area (g = 0.671 for biology; g = 0.590 for chemistry; g = 1.040 for physics and earth science); these between-groups differences were not statistically significant (p = 0.220). Concept maps were generally associated with increased science learning across several instructional settings, conditions, and methodological features (type of learners, high-income countries, journal publications, and late year of publication). However, we found significant heterogeneity in most subsets. Implications for future research and practice recommendations are discussed.


This open access article was first published in Educational Psychology Review 36, article number 39, (2024).

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