Interactive Learning & Design Lab


Designing Hypertext Materials for Science Classrooms: Understanding Students' Changing Cognitive Representations

Funded by National Science Foundation / Early CAREER Award $416,000

CoMPASS (Concept Mapped Project - Based Activity Scaffolding System) is a hypertext system that uses external, graphical representations in the form of concept maps alongside text descriptions, to help students learn science. The maps are dynamic, zoom in and out in a fisheye view, and are constructed dynamically as a function of the strength of the relations between the concepts by retrieving the concepts from a database. The concept maps in CoMPASS mirror the conceptual structure of the domain by making the relations between concepts transparent. CoMPASS also supports alternative views of concepts, which help students study science concepts and phenomena in depth by visiting them in multiple contexts. CoMPASS is implemented in JAVA and can be accessed using a web browser.

The CoMPASS hypertext system is being used in conjunction with inquiry-based curriculum units in sixth and eighth grade science classes. To date, CoMPASS has been used by over 1000 students in sixth and eighth grades.