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Concept Mapping in the Higher Education Classroom

Cool Tools presentation for WMU Office of Faculty Development AY 2012-2013/2013-2014 Teaching Concept Mapping

Kate Langan

on 2 April 2018

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Transcript of Concept Mapping in the Higher Education Classroom

Concept Mapping
in the higher ed.

"Graphic tools for organizing and representing knowledge."
More than just brainstorming...
Visualizing knowledge by
mapping concepts
showing relationships
No predefined vocabulary for linking words or phrases. General rule of thumb is to avoid using prepositions.
Not all graphs are concept maps.
Must express the relationship of the concepts
Hierarchical in nature (as this is how the brain stores knowledge)
Has a clear focus question

"Based on Ausubel's Assimilation Theory (Ausubel, 1968, 2000)

Novak's Theory of Learning,

People are primed to learn new things by basing learning on their current knowledge
Developed by Jospeh Novak's (60s-70s) research program at Cornell University where he sought to follow and understand changes in children's knowledge of science (Novak & Musonda, 1991).
Linking Words
Focus Question
A focus question clearly specifies the problem or issue the concept map tries to resolve.

Reinforce conceptualization of a process, systems or relationships
Reviewing for exams
Identifying main points in a reading
Organizing writing assignments
Assessing prior knowledge
Study aid (organize lecture notes)
Introducing students to a
concept mapping assignment
Reading summary
Pre-read the assignment (intro, conclusion, headings)
Read the assignment in one sitting
Create a map from memory
Identify gaps and areas of misunderstanding
Refer back to the reading to fill in any missing information
Identify the main concept of the paper
What do you know?
What do you want to know?
What are your opinions?
Types of concept maps
Clustering/Spider map
Systems map
Flow chart/Linear

Readily available software:

Free online:
Gliffy Online

Free Downloads:
Compendium Institute
Cmap Tools
Student instructions

Identify the main topic or core concept.
Brainstorm everything you know about the topic.
Place information on a map — working from the core concept, to major points, to significant details.
Organize the information according to major points
Review relevant course materials and discipline-specific vocabulary to make sure that you have everything,
Label connecting strands with words or phrases that indicate the relationships.
Use branches, arrows, and other symbols like stop signs or yield signs to indicate the nature of the relationships between ideas.
Use different colors, fonts or lines to group and distinguish concepts.
Include detailed explanations, definitions, rules, formulae or equations
Analyze the resulting map by asking the following questions:
Is the core concept accurately defined and positioned?
How do the ideas fit together?
Have I considered all of the related information gathered from lectures, texts, labs?
Have I noted all relevant relationships, exceptions, and conditions?
Does the map have adequate validity, logic, complexity and detail?
What is the muddiest point and what can be done to clarify it?
Include relevant examples
Revise the map as your understanding of the material improves.
Analog resources

Colorful sticky notes
White board
Pen and paper
1. Working in groups or pairs, choose one of the concept mapping tools.

2. Pretend you need to write an essay on one of the following topics.

3. This is a pre-writing exercise assigned to you by your professor as part of the final project. It will be graded.

4. Use the tools. Create a concept map.

5. At the end of the work session, you will be asked to present your map as well as talk about the pros/cons of the concept mapping tool. (Granted, you cannot compare it to anything. But ask yourself, what is the learning curve? Is there flexibility in the software that allows for creativity? Can it be used in a collaborative project? Can you share it online? Can you print it? Is it Mac/PC compatible? What is the learning curve? What were some of the obstacles in creating the map (the process, not the tool)
Software reviews:




The building blocks of knowledge are

Two concepts linked together are
Propositions are units of meaning.
that link the concepts to create a proposition are essential to the way we understand how we organize knowledge

Concept: perceived regularity in events or objects
for the iPad:
Whiteboard HD
Measure success of the
hierarchy/grouping of concepts
relationship of concepts/linking words
level of sophistication

Most general information at the top
More specific information cascading below

What we will cover today:
History, theoretical underpinnings
What are the components of a concept map?
Use in the classroom
types of concept maps
why concept maps and not other assessment tools
sample assignments
handout for students
concept mapping assessment ideas
Highly reflective of students understanding . For example, if there are weak links, it is evident.
Proven better recall (Hall & O'donnell 1996)
Required to synthesize information
Improves critical thinking (Maneval 2011)
Active learning (Clayton 2006)
Bloom's Taxonomy: higher cognitive performance
Gardner's multiple intelligences theory

Concepts presented in nodes
General science: scientific method
Physics: mechanics
Biology: human circulatory system
Chemistry: chemical reaction
History: industrial revolution
English: what do you know about Shakespeare?
Engineering: mechanical engineering
Math: probability
patient care plan
Education: creating a lesson plan/what is teaching?
Psychology: rewards and punishment
Business: project management
ESL: the job search experience

Use a quick warm-up exercise
1. Train your students
2. Create individual maps
3. Provide them with a "parking lot" of concepts to be added to the map
4. Review maps in small groups
5. Whole class discussion
Next steps in research

They are able to identify the precise information needed to support the argument in their paper.

Able to identify the potential sources to find that information.
Concept maps are
context dependent

Start with a area of knowledge that is familiar to the learner who can then build on that prior knowledge.
Meet three conditions:
1. The learner must possess prior knowledge of the material.
2. The material to be learned must be conceptually clear and presented with language and examples relatable to the learner's prior knowledge. Concept maps can be helpful to meet this condition, both by identifying large general concepts prior to instruction in more specific concepts, and by assisting in the sequencing of learning tasks though progressively more explicit knowledge that can be anchored into developing conceptual frameworks.
3. Student motivation: The learner must choose to learn meaningfully.
Centralized main idea with supporting concepts radiating outwards
Systems show inputs and outputs
Descending order
of importance
Flow chart - linear process
Problem-based map
Creative writing
Many more...
Google image search for examples
the creative leaps between ideas
represent new knowledge
(Novak 2008)
Learners should incorporate
meaningful examples
You can help your students by
emphasizing that they may need to create a preliminary concept map
concept maps are never done.
(Novak 2008)
Concept maps are a sophisticated plan of knowledge
To be used as a learning tool
To be used for evaluation
There is a learning curve
Ausubel's Theory of Meaningful learning
How I use concept mapping
in the information literacy classroom
How I use it

In small group work at white boards.
Each student spends 5 minutes mapping out ideas for research question
Why I use it

In order to have a successful thesis statement, once must first have a successful research question.

Crucial step often skipped in the research process.
"We believe one of the reasons concept mapping is so powerful ... is that it serves as a kind of template to help to organize knowledge and to structure it, even though the structure must be built up piece by piece with small units of interacting concept and propositional frameworks."
Students take pictures of their maps with their phones and then go back to their seats to work on developing a research question.
How fun is this?
Who doesn't love owls?

My next step is to write an HSIRB proposal so I can look at the final papers of groups of students who have and have not done concept mapping. Is there a significant improvement in the thesis statement? in the structure of the paper? in the sources selected?
Cool Tools presentation for WMU Office of Faculty Development
defined as
created by
based on
concept maps consist of
relationship is key
different from mind maps
mind maps don't express the relationship
structure matters
structure and linking are examples of knoweledge
Kate Langan
Asst. Professor
University Libraries

based on

starts with
followed by
connected by
sometimes include
nice to have
pedagogical use
can take the shape of...
these steps should help
these should make it easier
in the classroom
how to implement
presented by
clear directions
what are they assessing?
For example
For example
summarize acid base equilibrium chemistry 2250
more details
Snapshot of concept maps
Full transcript