Mind the Gap! Automated Concept Map Feedback Supports Students in Writing Cohesive Explanations

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Abstract

Many students are challenged with the demand of writing cohesive explanations. To support students in writing cohesive explanations, we developed a computer-based feedback tool that visualizes cohesion deficits of students’ explanations in a concept map. We conducted three studies to investigate the effectiveness of such feedback as well as the underlying cognitive processes. In Study 1, we found that the concept map helped students identify potential cohesion gaps in their drafts and plan remedial revisions. In Study 2, students with concept map feedback conducted revisions that resulted in more locally and globally cohesive, and also more comprehensible, explanations than the explanations of students who revised without concept map feedback. In Study 3, we replicated the findings of Study 2 by and large. More importantly, students who had received concept map feedback on a training explanation 1 week later wrote a transfer explanation without feedback that was more cohesive than the explanation of students who had received no feedback on their training explanation. The automated concept map feedback appears to particularly support the evaluation phase of the revision process. Furthermore, the feedback enabled novice writers to acquire sustainable skills in writing cohesive explanations.

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