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Concept mapping is a technique for representing what you know about a given topic. Concept maps are an external visualization of a person's internal schema, or how the person conceptualizes a topic. It is a process of creating a visual "map" or "web" of one's knowledge. Creating a concept map is a good way for someone to find the key concepts in lectures and reading. It also allows one to show how different pieces of knowledge relate to one another.

Because concept maps are an external visualization of a person's internal schema, or how the person conceptualizes a topic, they are an excellent tool for assessing the level of a learner's knowledge on a given topic.

How to do a Map

  • Print in capitals, for ease of reading. This will also encourage you to keep the points brief.

  • Use unlined paper, since the presence of lines on paper may hinder the non-linear process of Mapping. If you must use lined paper, turn it so the lines are vertical.

  • Use paper with no previous writing on it.

  • Connect all words or phrases or lists with lines, to the centre or to other "branches." When you get a new idea, start again with a new "spoke" from the centre.

  • Go quickly, without pausing -- try to keep up with the flow of ideas. Do not stop to decide where something should goi.e. to order or organize material -- just get it down. Ordering and analyzing are "linear" activities and will disrupt the Mapping process.

  • Write down everything you can think of without judging or editing -- these activites will also disrupt the Mapping process.

  • If you come to a standstill, look over what you have done to see if you have left anything out.

  • You may want to use color-coding, to group sections of the Map.

Some Organizational Patterns That May Appear in a Concept-Map

  • Branches. An idea may branch many times to include both closely and distantly related ideas.

  • Arrows. You may want to use arrows to join ideas from different branches.

  • Groupings. If a number of branches contain related ideas, you may want to draw a circle around the whole area.

  • Lists.

  • Explanatory/Exploratory notes. You may want to write a few sentences in the Map itself, to explain, question, or comment on some aspect of your Map -- for example, the relationship between some of the ideas.