Introduction to Concept Mapping
Used as a learning and teaching technique, concept mapping visually illustrates the relationships between concepts and ideas. Often represented in circles or boxes, concepts are linked by words and phrases that explain the connection between the ideas, helping students organize and structure their thoughts to further understand information and discover new relationships. Most concept maps represent a hierarchical structure, with the overall, broad concept first with connected sub-topics, more specific concepts, following.
Concept Map Example
Definition of a Concept Map
A concept map is a type of graphic organizer used to help students organize and represent knowledge of a subject. Concept maps begin with a main idea (or concept) and then branch out to show how that main idea can be broken down into specific topics.
Benefits of Concept Mapping
Concept mapping serves several purposes for learners:
How to Build a Concept Map
Concept maps are typically hierarchical, with the subordinate concepts stemming from the main concept or idea. This type of graphic organizer however, always allows change and new concepts to be added. The Rubber Sheet Analogy states that concept positions on a map can continuously change, while always maintaining the same relationship with the other ideas on the map.
A helpful way to determine the context of your concept map is to choose a focus question—something that needs to be solved or a conclusion that needs to be reached. Once a topic or question is decided on, that will help with the hierarchical structure of the concept map.
Find the key concepts that connect and relate to your main idea and rank them; most general, inclusive concepts come first, then link to smaller, more specific concepts.
Once the basic links between the concepts are created, add cross-links, which connect concepts in different areas of the map, to further illustrate the relationships and strengthen student’s understanding and knowledge on the topic.