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Concept Mapping Workshops: Helping Ocean Scientists Represent and Communicate Science

March 19, 2013


2013, Oceanography 26(1):98–105,

Concept Mapping Workshops: Helping Ocean Scientists Represent and Communicate Science

Authors | Abstract | Full Article | Citation | References


Annette deCharon  | University of Maine, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, ME, USA

Linda Duguay  | University of Southern California (USC), Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, and USC Sea Grant Program, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Janice McDonnell  | Department of 4-H Youth Development, Rutgers University, Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Cheryl Peach  | Scripps Educational Alliances, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA

Carla Companion  | University of Maine, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, ME, USA

Christen Herren  | University of Maine, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, ME, USA

Patricia Harcourt  | COSEE-West, USC, Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, USC Sea Grant Program, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Theodore Repa  | Administration & Instructional Leadership, Graduate School of Education, Touro College and University System, New York, NY, USA

Carrie Ferraro  | Coastal Ocean Observation Lab, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Patricia Kwon  | COSEE-West, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Sage Lichtenwalner  | Coastal Ocean Observation Lab, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Eric Simms  | previously at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, CA, USA, now at Harvard University Center for the Environment

Lynn Whitley  | Pre-College Education and COSEE-West, USC, Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, USC Sea Grant Program, Los Angeles, CA, USA



Public appreciation and basic understanding of the role the ocean plays in the global environment has become more important as the urgency to make decisions on complex environmental issues has increased. Because communicating science to the public is often challenging for scientists, they can benefit from employing methods such as concept mapping, which "deconstructs" science into discrete ideas and organizes them into graphical formats. Responding to recommendations by ocean science faculty who participated in concept-mapping workshops with pre-college educators, four Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence designed, implemented, and evaluated a series of professional development workshops for graduate students. These workshops engaged 20 faculty-level ocean scientists to help 73 graduate students depict complex scientific ideas using concept maps. Evidence shows that operationally breaking down topics and reorganizing them into graphical formats benefited faculty and graduate students alike. Each workshop culminated with the graduate students delivering oral presentations to nonscientist audiences such as high school students. Graduate students were highly rated on their abilities to place topics within a broad societal context. In a follow-up survey, graduate students recognized the potential of concept mapping to enhance their professional skills and to organize their own research.


Full Article

1.89 MB pdf



deCharon, A., L. Duguay, J. McDonnell, C. Peach, C. Companion, C. Herren, P. Harcourt, T. Repa, C. Ferraro, P. Kwon, S. Lichtenwalner, E. Simms, and L. Whitley. 2013. Concept mapping workshops: Helping ocean scientists represent and communicate scienceOceanography 26(1):98–105,



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