The objective of this study was to determine whether there was a quantifiable improvement in learning outcomes by integrating course materials in a 4-year baccalaureate program, utilizing a knowledge repository with a conceptual map that spans a discipline. Two new models were developed to provide the framework for this knowledge repository. A design artifact, Constructivist Unifying Baccalaureate Epistemology (CUBE), was developed and tested and incorporates these models. This CUBE artifact incorporates a Semantic Web ontology and a W3C Resource Description Framework to create a concept space that offers a unified view of the discipline. The Knowledge Repository was modeled as an organic structure with the ability to evolve over time by incorporating a ranking/voting feature which enables students and faculty to add content to the knowledge base and collectively evaluate the relative weights of conceptual threads. Conceptual Clustering was used to create a concept map for traversing the Knowledge Repository. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Knowledge Repository, a triangulated research approach was used, which cross checked results with multiple data sources and utilized qualitative and quantitative methods to validate the test instruments. The analyses included: focus groups, semistructured interviews, a questionnaire, and a quantitative exam that measured knowledge spanning multiple courses. Four classes participated during two semesters with four faculty members, using control and treatment groups. The research contrasted conventional single course instruction versus an Integrated Knowledge Repository (IKR) approach to learning. There was an average increase of 25 points in scores on a comprehensive exam for students who used the Knowledge Repository. The results supported our main hypothesis, that "Students utilizing the IKR will develop a more complex understanding of the interconnected nature of the materials linking a discipline than those students who take conventional single topic courses".
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science Applications
- Collaborative learning
- Knowledge repository