Using concept maps for studying can have many different benefits for students. Concept maps utilize the full range of both left and right hemispheres of the brain, which can help students to simplify structures and clarify ideas. They can help with memory recall and make it easier for students to see the relationships between different concepts, ideas, topics, and more. Concept maps can be beneficial for all students, but they can be beneficial for visual learners to understand the material better.
What is a Concept Map?
A concept map is a diagram with nodes and links that show the semantic relationships between concepts. The linking lines are typically paired with phrases that describe the relationships between the nodes. These maps offer a visual representation of a concept or idea. They are a way for students to organize ideas, facts, and thoughts to encourage organization and prompt memory. They make it easier for students to assimilate ideas or concepts and effectively disseminate the information across work or projects. A concept mapping tool can help students include:
Some students might struggle to get ideas down onto a page when attempting to organize ideas. This can be especially difficult for students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia. A concept mapping tool or template can lessen the pressure of organization and provide students with a logical place to begin generating ideas.
Concept mapping can be beneficial for students who struggle with organization skills. They provide structure when learning and organizing ideas, allowing students to quickly break down the information into more manageable chunks and make it easier to see the relationship between different concepts, topics, ideas, and more.
Since some students might have issues with auditory processing, mind maps and concept mapping can be handy for taking notes during lectures and lessons. In much the same way that a concept map can help with concentration, a template for a concept map can provide a more logical and structured way to take notes and organize the information being delivered.
While concept mapping can be helpful for any student of any topic and at any level, it can be handy for students with learning difficulties, dyslexia, auditory processing, or problems organizing information. Concept mapping can be an ideal strategy to support students with these issues, creating an educational environment that supports all students and reduces unfair advantages in the classroom.
How to Use Concept Maps in the Classroom
Most concept maps have a hierarchical nature, with related topics that branch out from the main one. They’re also flexible, allowing for the addition of new concepts and changes over time. The relationship between the different concepts and ideas, however, should stay the same. Concept maps can be used in the classroom using these simple steps:
- Focus Questions: A good focus question can be used to determine the structure of a concept map. This question should focus on the primary concept or idea that requires a conclusion or solution. You can start by introducing a new topic in the form of a focus question and go through creating a concept map on it with students, making it easier to assess students’ existing knowledge on the topic.
- Recording Concepts: In this step, your students will be concerned with the collection and ranking of information. Students should list sub concepts, ideas and information that is related to the primary idea, before ranking them in order of importance and relevance.
- Finding Connections: This step involves identifying the relationships between the various concepts and figuring out how this can be represented on the concept map. Include both basic links and any cross-links to connect the different topics to each other.
- Review and Complete: Once the map has been completed, it’s time to reflect on it and review it to ensure that any connections found are accurate. During this step, you should make any necessary changes to the map, such as adding missed topics or making sure that descriptive phrases make sense.
- Practicing the Strategy: To learn the strategy of concept mapping, students can learn in groups and by finding a focus question. As students become more familiar with the strategy, they can be encouraged to frame their own focus questions and create their own concept maps.
Why Concept Maps are Useful in Education
Concept maps are an effective way to make learning easier for students. With concept mapping, students may find it easier to organize complex ideas and topics, make connections between topics and ideas, and take notes in an easier way for them to understand. Concept maps can benefit all students, but they may benefit students who struggle with dyslexia, auditory processing, or organization.