gms | German Medical Science

Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA)

05.10. - 08.10.2011, München

The use of a graphical representation tool to support discussion on immunology in tutorial groups


Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA). München, 05.-08.10.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11gma029

DOI: 10.3205/11gma029, URN: urn:nbn:de:0183-11gma0292

Veröffentlicht: 26. September 2011

© 2011 Jonkers et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.



Question: Discussions in problem-based tutorials are often lacking in interaction (quantity) and depth of discourse (quality), especially when complex, not directly observable mechanisms are involved. This is a serious problem, since collaborative learning is only more effective than individual learning if shared reasoning occurs [1]. Insufficient understanding of complex, abstract knowledge can cause ambiguity of claims and hamper exchange of ideas and negotiation of shared meaning. Combined with insufficient motivation this can induce a superficial conflict-avoiding cooperation style [3].

Shared graphical representation tools can support externalisation of ideas and mutual understanding in collaborative learning [2]. Prototypical are whiteboards, which offer content-unspecific support. Content-specific tools can provide a ‘visual language’ consisting of a set of symbols and task specific categories to support group discourse [4].

Methods: Seven groups of medical students used a concept mapping program (Smart Ideas) in elaborating on immunology theory. They could use symbols and diagrams imported from ‘Basic Immunology’ (textbook) to build diagrams on smartboards or touchscreens by dragging and dropping symbols on a card and connecting them with arrows. Text could be added to provide more detail. In a pilot study in April 2011 we videotaped the use of the program in groups of students with four different tutors. In a focus group we discussed the tutors’ experiences and ask them to comment on fragments of the recordings. In the analysis we focused on the following aspects of collaborative knowledge construction: externalisation of task-relevant knowledge, elicitation of task-relevant knowledge and conflict-oriented and integration-oriented consensus building. Students’ experiences were evaluated using a questionnaire (n=70).

Results: The initial analysis of the data set seems promising. The results and conclusions will be presented at the GMA conference.


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