ALA-Mapper (analyze lexical aggregates) v1.01 - by Roy Clariana (RClariana@psu.edu)
Note that the name "Space Mapper" and C-Mapper were both already taken, so I renamed it "ALA-Mapper".
ALA-Mapper allows you to collect vast amounts of "distance" (proximity) data from network (concept/cognitive) maps. We think that ALA-Mapper is a comprehension "mapper", because our empirical data suggests that these distance proximity data relate to comprehension.
We think of it as an alternative to the Pathfinder pair-wise rating task . With ALA-Mapper, students simply drag terms around the screen, then click done. For example, with Pathfinder, 36 terms would require that the student make 630 pair-wise comparison, which could easily take an hour of hard thinking. Our experience with ALA-Mapper shows that 36 terms can be sorted in about 15 minutes.
Specifically, this software allows you to enter up to 36 terms that your participants drag around the computer screen. When done, the software writes a text file of (x, y) coordinates. You then manually use an included excel file (matrix.xls) to convert the (x, y) coordinates into a proximity data array that you save as a Pathfinder *.prx file. We will automate the software in the next version so that it outputs the proximity data array, thus the excel file will become obsolete.
You will need to download 3 files into the same folder:
Another file named response.txt is also created that contains the users open-ended responses to the mapping activity.
Practice with a simple dummy list before moving to more complex lists
Now add your more complex list of 36 terms into terms.txt. Once you have distance matrices for each user, then the fun begins in terms of analyzing the mountains of data that's produced. Let me know how it goes.
If you know AuthorWare, you can modify ALA-Mapper directly (ala.a4p). For example, I build ALA-Mapper into CBT lessons.
Please email or call me at 610-648-3253. I use ALA-Mapper in my INSYS 522 course at Penn State, and seek your ideas on using this approach more fully. Also, I am trying to get a feel both of the interest in this topic as well as how far abroad this software can spread within a set amount of time.
Here is a presentation that I did at McRel in Denver at Christmas that shows where we are at this point (McREL.ppt).
email me at: http://www.personal.psu.edu/rbc4 or Add a New Message to my bulletin board below:
ver1.0 6/24/02; rev. 2/10/03