Gloria Gomez, PhD / interaction and visual designer / about me

Issues in Preschool Concept Mapping: An Interaction
Design Perspective
Doctoral research (conferred in 2009)
Advisor: A/Prof Deirdre Barron
Faculty of Design, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia


Images of case study two
The Authoring Kit is comprised of familiar classroom materials and voice-recorders, an off-the shelf device. These materials were re-purposed or re-designed to scaffold and enhance children's physical and mental interactions with concept maps during individual and collaborative classroom activities.

This research sought to examine Joseph D. Novak’s claim that young children could quickly learn to make concept maps – a knowledge organisation tool that promotes meaningful learning. A theoretical account supporting Novak’s claim is that after age 3 children effectively communicate concepts with verbal language. Drawing from several disciplines(child learning and development plus concept mapping), I argued that concept mapping requires cognitive skills that preschoolers have not yet mastered: concept labelling and organisation with written language and hierarchy.

To investigate Novak’s claim, I developed a prototype tool with scaffolding features that enable children to label concepts with verbally-labelled symbols, and enhance their control over concept organisation skills. Named the Authoring Concept Mapping Kit, the tool was developed using the Bridging Design Prototype Method, a by-product of this research, which is informed by several user-centred design methods and Ausubel’s constructivist theory of learning.

Images of case study two

Case studies were performed in Australia and the US, where teachers adapted the tool for evaluating the conceptual knowledge of 4.6- to 6-years-olds during free-play time and science-related activities, while the researcher made participant observations. I examined the tool’s effectiveness by analysing child autonomy-related behaviours during map building. When promoted through teacher facilitation, map authoring disclosed particularities in children’s concept representation, stimulated active inquiry, meaning negotiation, and participation of preliterate, emergent writers, and two children with special needs. See thesis abstract

Already tested outside my doctoral research by primary school teachers in the Netherlands (2012 - 2013) and a developmental psychology in the US (2008, 2009), this mapping tool has shown positive and promising outcomes in the promotion of child metacognitive skills and early literacy. Please review the publications below for details.


Book chapters

Kicken R., Ernes E., Hoogenberg-Engbers I., Gomez G. (2016) Improving the Teaching of Children with Severe Speech-Language Difficulties by Introducing an Authoring Concept Mapping Kit. In: Cañas A., Reiska P., Novak J. (eds) Innovating with Concept Mapping. CMC 2016. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 635. Springer, Cham

Gomez, G. (c2010) Enhancing Autonomy, Active Inquiry and Meaning Negotiation in Preschool Concept Mapping, In Handbook of Research on Collaborative Learning using Concept Mapping, Information Science Reference. See abstract, chapter XIX

Invited article submissions

Gomez, G. (2011) Concept Mapping with 3- to 6-year olds to Support Meaningful Learning, ChildForum

Gomez, G. (2010). Designing socially inclusive educational resources. Proc. of GLIDE'10 – Global Interactions in Design Virtual Conference.

Refeered conferences papers

Gomez, G. (2009) Gaining Entry to Real Setting with A Bridging Design Prototype, CHINZ 2009 Proceedings .

Gomez, G. (2007) A Bridging Design Prototype for Investigating Concept Mapping in the Preschool Community, CHI 2007 Extended Abstracts.

Gomez, G. (2006) An Authoring Concept Mapping Kit for the Early Childhood Classroom. Proc. of the Second International Conference on Concept Mapping

Gomez, G. (2005) Factors in Designing Concept Mapping Tool for 3-to-5 Year Olds, University of Queensland Interaction Design Postgraduate Students Conference.

Refeered conference abstracts

Gomez, G. (2005) Design of a Concept Mapping Tool for 3-to-5 Year Olds, Our Children the Future 4 – Early Childhood Conference.

Colleagues using the Kit

Hoogenberg-Engbers, I. (2013, April). Concept mapping met kleuters / Leren communiceren op papier. Tijdschrift voor Remedial Teaching, 21, 20-24.

Cassata-Widera, A. (2009) Concept Mapping with Young Children: From Representation to Metacognition, Peabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, VDM Verlag, 120 pages

Cassata-Widera, A. E. (2008) Concept Mapping and Early Literacy: A Promising Crossroads. In Proc. of the Third International Conference on Concept Mapping.

Colleagues referencing outcomes of the research

van Veen, P. (2014, April). Positieve resultaten met conceptmappen op Mgr. Hanssenschool. VHZ: Van Horen Zeggen, 6-7.

Birbili, M. (2006) Mapping Knowledge: Concept Maps in Early Childhood Education. In Early Childhood Research & Practice, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Fall 2006). Versión en Español