How ‘networked’ are online collaborative concept-maps? Introducing metrics for quantifying and comparing the ‘networkedness’ of collaboratively constructed content

Noa Sher, Carmel Kent, Sheizaf Rafaeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the growing role of online multi-participant collaborations in shaping the academic, professional, and civic spheres, incorporating collaborative online practices in educational settings has become imperative. As more educators include such practices in their curricula, they are faced with new challenges. Assessment of collaborations, especially in larger groups, is particularly challenging. Assessing the quality of the collaborative “thought process” and its product is essential for both pedagogical and evaluative purposes. While traditional quantitative quality measures were designed for individual work or the aggregated work of individuals, capturing the complexity and the integrative nature of high-quality collaborative learning requires novel methodologies. Network analysis provides methods and tools that can identify, describe, and quantify non-linear and complex phenomena. This paper applies network analysis to the content created by students through large-scale online collaborative concept-mapping and explores how these can be applied for the assessment of the quality of a collective product. Quantitative network structure measures are introduced for this purpose. The application and the affordances of these metrics are demonstrated on data from six large-group online collaborative discussions from academic settings. The metrics presented here address the organization and the integration of the content and enable a comparison of collaborative discussions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number267
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Assessment of collaboration in learning
  • Collaborative learning
  • Concept mapping
  • Network analysis
  • Online collaboration
  • Online discussion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Computer Science Applications


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