Effective Learning Techniques: Concept Maps

A concept map is a special type of diagram that helps visualise ideas or concepts and the hierarchical relationship or link between them.

It is essentially a technique used to organise information using key words or concepts that guide people from one idea to another in a structured diagram using blocks, lines and colours.

Concept maps were first developed by professor Joseph D. Novak at the University of Cornell in the 1960s. They were based on David Ausubel’s theory of meaningful learning. This psychological theory studies the process of how people learn using all aspects and factors that form part of acquiring, assimilating, and retaining content and its significance. From this information, it is understood that learning depends on the content that has been learned previously and how it relates to new information.

Characteristics of Concept Maps:

  • The information is organised hierarchically. The most important information is placed in the upper part of the map as that will then help to develop the rest of the concepts.
  • They help to understand ideas by simplifying complicated or extensive information into brief and concise concepts.
  • They usually respond to a question or approach. Although the information and concepts are general, the content of the map should answer a question regarding a topic.
  • Even though it takes a while to create, it is very helpful for better understanding and it is easier to memorise.
  • In order to create a concept map, it is important to clearly understand the information and concepts

 Benefits of using a concept map:

As this is a tool that connects different concepts visually, it serves as an effective learning technique in both the way it helps represent information as well as the learning that takes place when making the map.

  • It improves synthesis skills since the creation of a concept map in itself requires one to simplify the most important concepts and organise them in relation to the main idea.
  • It improves study skills because it requires one to organise and prioritise information. It helps to plan activities while focusing on what is most important.
  • It helps one to carry out activities and improves attention skills. The information is not only prioritised by importance but also works as stimuli and reinforces abilities to carry out activities as well as attention levels.
  • It encourages curiosity and searching for information. It is not just summarising, it involves investigating and contrasting information with various sources to be able to consolidate and solidify the map.
  • It helps to clearly identify the concept or problem. By organising the information, it helps to identify the causes and possible solutions.

The following is an example of a concept map that covers and organises the information in this post:

conceptual-map

After looking at this map, do you think it’s easier to structure information and memorise it? What do you think? We want to hear your opinion so make sure to leave a comment below!

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