In its first stage, Complex Forma Mentis aims at gathering data on how high school students make associations between scientific concepts and on what is their perception of them.
For instance, do students generally perceive “physics” as a positive concept or not? Can we quantitatively assess whether or not it is feared by most of the students or seen as something inspiring and positive instead?
More importantly, how do students organise their knowledge map? What are the concepts they associate with “chemical reaction” or “equations” or “simulation”? Are high school students able to relate “math” to anything particularly close to their everyday experience or not?
Example of a network of free associations for English speaking toddlers, based on the University of South Florida association norms. Word associations give rise to an association network where nodes represent concepts. Notice that associations relate with the meaning of concepts and can give rise to communities of words representing meaning contexts. In the above example concepts relative to bath furniture (purple nodes) cluster together away from concepts relative to containers or supports (red nodes).
Complex Forma Mentis aims at answering these research questions by building a free association network of scientific concepts for students, teachers and early stage researchers. Not only associations but also the perception of concepts will be registered as well. This way the project will gather data for potentially detecting anomalous or missing links and clusters of negatively perceived concepts within a specific category (e.g. students, teachers and researchers).
The data will be gathered on a voluntary basis, it will be anonymised and the resulting datasets will be released under Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA 4.0.