The ability of students to construct connections between chemistry concepts is of major concern to educators. This study, conducted in a large-enrollment introductory chemistry course, investigated whether concept maps constructed by students helped develop increased understanding of chemical concepts. Three cycles of research, implemented during three different semesters, used concept maps in a variety of situations to enhance student understanding. Cycle one utilized concept maps as homework assignments and as a post-laboratory assignment. Cycle two utilized concept maps as homework assignments and as assessment techniques on weekly quizzes. Cycle three used concept maps as group activities and as optional assessment techniques.Results indicated that concept maps provided an excellent tool for students to generate meaningful connections between chemical concepts. Evidence is given that concept maps can be used to provide students, professors, and teaching assistants with information about a student's conceptual understanding. A grading rubric for assessing student concept maps is also presented. Several issues regarding the use of concept maps as assessment tools and the attitudes of students and teaching assistants toward the instructional use of concept maps are discussed.

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