Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Concept Mapping

In a previous post I outlined some of the benefits of using concept maps.  Also known as mind maps, they are simply charts that sketch out how you understand a particular concept.  This helps you map out for yourself how the pieces of a complex topic relate to one another . . .and perhaps also how they relate to other concepts.

You've seen concept maps before.  They are scattered throughout your A&P textbook.  They can take the form of flow charts, tables, circle diagrams, sketches, and so on.  When you make your own concept map, you help yourself to learn how it all fits together.

If you struggle with putting together a concept map, that's great!  That means that you've identified a specific hole in your understanding.  You can't complete a concept map unless you understand where to place all the bits into the picture, right?  Once you stumble, you know what parts of your understanding are weak.  And that means you know what sections of the textbook you need to explore further.  Or what questions you need to ask your study group, your professor, or your tutor.

When you've finished the concept map, you've learned quite a bit.  Your understanding of the concept is deeper.

And the finished concept map serves as a handy reference for future study and review.  If you keep it for the long term, which I recommend, it becomes part of your own personal encyclopedia that never stops growing.  And which, I hope, you continue to update as your learning expands.

I recently ran across a FREE online tool that creates concepts maps in a simple chart style.  It's called and it's really easy to use.  You just cut and paste (or type in) and outline of a concept and the tool will automatically generate a concept map! 

You can then tweak the layout, the levels, the colors, the fonts, etc.   Then with a single click you can save your concept map as a graphics file.  You then have the option of printing out your concept map or sharing it with a friend or embedding it in your class notes.

Want to know more about concept mapping?  Visit my page on Concept Maps in the Lion Den.