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Structuring of studied concepts as a criterion of learning success

Success of learning can’t be reduced to a sum of isolated facts – the presence of their organization is even more significant. This research investigated how students are able to link separate concepts into common structured pictures and how this process can be evaluated. The content of the discipline “Computer architecture” was represented as an interrelated structure, built from 122 basic concepts. This semantic network is a lecturer’s model of curriculum. But what is the real structure of students’ knowledge after learning a course, and how to evaluate it? A special experimental method was developed to study these questions. During the experiment a student links pairs of concepts from the proposed list. Then special software combines related concepts into groups, which are independent from each other. The average size of these groups is considered to be a numeric characteristic of knowledge organization and hence a type of measurement for learning success: the larger size attests the better achievements. Some pedagogical regularities can be seen from the resulting diagrams. The most evident is that below average students achieve more stable growth. The results offer the potential that developed method can help to evaluate a level of knowledge organization.

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