Monday, February 16, 2009

Running concept lists

Running concept lists are handy tools for learning new concepts.

But they are even more helpful for learning the connections between concepts . . . thus developing your critical thinking skills!

Concept lists are also called connection pages because they help you see connections.

How to make a running concept list:

Choose a concept, such as "plasma membrane functions," that you see show up frequently in your reading or class discussions. (Also use concepts that your A&P teacher mentions "will come up again.")

Put the name of the concept at the top of your list.

Write notes on everything you know about this concept so far.

Be brief but direct and clear.

Draw pictures if that helps you understand the concept better. (copy the pictures from your book if you need to)

Make a separate list for each concept.

How to "run" the concept list:

Keep each concept list with your notes, perhaps a separate section started from the back of your notebook.

Whenever the concept appears again, add the new information or the new example to your concept list.

For example, list each new function of the plasma membrane as you run across it. When you see the same function appear in new contexts, add that to your list, too.

How to use the list:

Just by making the list and keeping it current, you will be learning to see applications and relationships . . . important "critical thinking" skills that will help you later.

This exercise will help improve your skills in noticing which concepts are the more important ones.

When it is time to prepare for a test or exam, you will already have a list where comparisons are apparent . . . you will see information that would not be easily seen in your notes or the textbook.

When you need a "cross-referenced" glossary to check on information for a test or class discussion question, your concept lists may help.

When you need to summarize (such as reviewing for a big exam) or in reviewing your material before taking another course that uses these concepts, you'll have a handy "connected" list of concepts.

Don't forget:

Run a separate concept list for EACH important concept.


For more on concept lists, including a list of example topics for each concept list, see Concept Lists in the Lion Den.

Also check out my previous blog article Concept Maps.

1 comment:

Ron C. de Weijze said...

This is exactly how I have been working as a student and still work. I used 'yellow sticky notes' or 'yellows'. And to run the list and use it for lifelong learning, I use a concept mapping tool of my own. The notes themselves get long histories but also, they get related across the maps, turning them into 'linking pins' enabling new concept maps I never even thought were possible.

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