There is concern over international students’ low academic achievement at the college level. Due to language challenges and cultural differences, international students’ academic achievement is not satisfactory that resulting in a decrease in the retention rate. The concept-mapping method may enhance student knowledge acquisition by providing students with learning tools that promote meaningful learning. The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to investigate the effects of the concept-mapping strategy on international college students’ economic learning and perceptions. One intact class comprised of international students was assigned to the concept-mapping strategy group. Another class contained English-speaking students were assigned as a comparison group. Students’ economics achievement was measured by performance on achievement tests, including quizzes, midterms, concept-mapping rubric scores, and classroom participation. The results indicated a positive trend of quiz scores across time for four quizzes and two midterms for both groups. The results also suggested no statistically significant difference in classroom participation scores between the two groups, which indicates that international students with traditional education background that is passive were participating at the same level as students from the US. Six themes emerged from the qualitative data: prior knowledge and use of the concept-mapping strategy, resources for concept maps development, participant-identified advantages of using the concept-mapping strategy, the reasons for ambivalence about using the concept-mapping strategy, additional note-taking strategies used by participants, and participants’ willingness of using the concept-mapping strategy in the future. The study suggests that practitioners should consider applying the concept-mapping strategy as an alternative assessment method.
Yinghung Chiang, University of San Francisco, United States