< back to the main view >

Improved Vee Heuristics

Improved Vee heuristics are applied and presented in the new research methods textbook:
Wheeldon, J. & Ahlberg, M. 2011 Visualizing Social Science Research: Maps, Methods, & Meaning. London: SAGE. (ISBN: 9781412991049).
(1) http://www.uk.sagepub.com/books/Book235388
(2) http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Awheeldon%20ahlberg&page=1

Novak and Gowin (1984) presented Gowin's Vee diagram or Vee heuristic to promote meaningful learning. Åhlberg (1993) presented an Improved Vee Heuristic, which has been improved later on (e.g. Åhlberg 1997 and 1998). The problem with original Vee heuristic was with my university students e.g., that they did not know what is their World View. I changed this item to 'Value Basis': 'Why do you want to spend your life, time and resources to answer the focus question'? I integrated the basic ideas of action research and Deming's cycle from Continual Quality Improvement movement into the design of Improved Vee Heuristic. This tool provides for teachers, pupils and researchers valuable data (e.g. Ahoranta 1999, Åhlberg & Ahoranta 2000a; 2000b and 2000c; 2000d, 2002).

In the following Tables 1 and 2 I compare Gowin's original Vee heuristic to improved Vee heuristic which I have researched and developed since 1993 (Åhlberg 1993, 1998 and 2002)

Table 1. Comparing the main parts of Vee heuristic and improved Vee heuristic

Main parts of the Vee heuristic/Gowin’s Vee

Main parts of the improved Vee heuristic




IMPLEMENTING: Description of what has been really done in order to answer the focus question(s).



Table2. Comparing the main elements of Vee heuristic and improved Vee heuristic

The main elements of the Vee heuristic/Gowin’s Vee
(Novak & Gowin 1984; Novak 1998 and 2002 )

The main elements of the improved Vee heuristic
Åhlberg 1993 – 2002;

Åhlberg and Ahoranta 2002)

1. Focus questions

1. Focus question(s)

2. World view

2. Value basis: Why do you want to spend your life, time and resources to answer the focus question(s)?

3. Philosophy/epistemology

3. Theoretical basis: What is your tentative theory in the beginning of your inquiry? What do you know in the beginning of your inquiry?

4. Theory

5. Principles

6. Constructs

7. Concepts

4. Conceptual basis: What are the main concepts of your theoretical basis? They act like lenses or a net by which you try to answer the focus question(s).


5. Methodological basis: What methods do you plan to use to answer your focus question(s)?

8. Events and/or objects

6. Description of what has been really done in order to answer the focus question(s).

9. Records

7. Records

10. Transformations

8. Transformations

11. Knowledge claims

9. Knowledge claims

12. Value claims

10. Value claims

Some practical, but unfortunately only Finnish, examples of improved Vee heuristics maps are in the following Internet addresses:



I introduced two other new quality tools (Improved Concept Mapping, Improved Vee Heuristics and ARRA or Analysis of Reasoning, Rhetorics and Argumentation) to monitor and promote high quality learning, thinking and acting.


Åhlberg, M. 1993. Concept maps, Vee diagrams and Rhetorical Argumentation (RA) Analysis: Three educational theory-based tools to facilitate meaningful learning. Paper presented at The Third International Seminar on Misconceptions in Science and Mathematics. August 1- 5, 1993. Cornell University. Published digitally in the Proceedings of the Seminar, http://www.mlrg.org/proc3abstracts.html (Read 26 2. 2003.)

Åhlberg, M. 1998. Education for sustainability, good environment and good life. In Åhlberg, M. & Leal Filho, W. (Eds.) Environmental Education for Sustainability: Good Environment, Good Life. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 25 - 43.

Åhlberg, M. 2002. Translator's postscript: Twenty years research on theory of integrating education, improved concept maps and Vee heuristics in Finland [in Finnish]. In Novak, J. Tiedon oppiminen luominen ja käyttö [Finnish translation of Learning, creating and using knowledge]. Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus, 300 - 315.

Åhlberg, M. & Ahoranta, V. 2002. Two improved educational theory based tools to monitor and promote quality of geographical education and learning. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education 11(2).

Novak, J. 1998. Learning, creating and using knowledge. Concept Maps™ as facilitative tools in schools and in corporations. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Novak, J. 2002. Meaningful learning: The essential factor for conceptual change in limited or inappropriate prepositional hierarchies leading to empowerment of learners. Science Education 86(4), 548 - 571.

Novak; J. & Gowin, B. 1984. Learning how to learn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


< back to the main view >