Help with Writing Concept mapping

An overview of concept mapping

This is a 1997 article by Eric Plotnick, from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology Syracuse NY

In the 1960s, Joseph D. Novak (1993) at Cornell University began to study the concept mapping technique. His work was based on the theories of David Ausubel (1968), who stressed the importance of prior knowledge in being able to learn about new concepts. Novak concluded that "Meaningful learning involves the assimilation of new concepts and propositions into existing cognitive structures." A concept map is a graphical representation where nodes (points or vertices) represent concepts, and links (arcs or lines) represent the relationships between concepts. The concepts, and sometimes the links, are labeled on the concept map. The links between the concepts can be one-way, two-way, or non-directional. The concepts and the links may be categorized, and the concept map may show temporal or causal relationships between concepts.

Concept mapping is a type of knowledge representation. Jonassen & Grabowski (1993, p. 433) state that structural knowledge may be seen as a separate type of knowledge. "Structural knowledge provides the conceptual basis for why. It describes how prior knowledge is interconnected. Structural knowledge is most often depicted in terms of some sort of concept map that visually describes the relationships between ideas in a knowledge domain." Representing knowledge in the visual format of a concept map allows one to gain an overview of a domain of knowledge. Because the nodes contain only a keyword or a short sentence, more interpretation is required of the reader, but this may be positive. Concept mapping can be used for several purposes:

–To generate ideas (brainstorming);

Visual representation has several advantages:

–Visual symbols are quickly and easily recognized;

(1) Creativity Tool: Drawing a concept map can be compared to participating in a brainstorming session. As one puts ideas down on paper without criticism, the ideas become clearer and the mind becomes free to receive new ideas. These new ideas may be linked to ideas already on the paper, and they may also trigger new associations leading to new ideas.

Jonassen (1990) proposes that few of the computer tools used today for learning have been designed as learning tools. Usually educators use existing tools for teaching purposes. According to Jonassen, concept mapping computer tools belong to the rare category of computer tools that were designed specifically for learning. Some of the advantages of computer support for concept mapping include:

–Ease of adaptation and manipulation: Once you have a concept map on paper, try to fit in those forgotten concepts or the ideas you came up with overnight and you will know the advantages of computer assisted concept mapping. Anderson-Inman and Zeitz (1993) compare the use of the concept mapping program "Inspiration" (see below) with the paper-and-pencil approach and found that using this program "encourages revisions to the concept map because deletions, additions, and changes are accomplished quickly and easily."

Inspiration ( is currently one of the most popular computer software programs for creating concept maps. Organization of concepts, and brainstorming and mapping of ideas are mentioned in the User’s Manual (Inspiration Software Inc., 1994) as primary functions of this program. The graphical capabilities of Inspiration make it an outstanding program for creating graphs for presentation purposes. Nodes may be shown in many different useful preset and user-defined shapes. Links may be straight or curved and may be labeled. Arrowheads may be placed on any side, and everything may be set to any color.

Concept mapping is a technique for representing the structure of information visually. There are several uses for concept mapping, such as idea generation, design support, communication enhancement, learning enhancement, and assessment. A wide range of computer software for concept mapping is now available for most of the popular computers used in education.

Anderson-Inman, L.,& Zeitz, L. (1993, August/September). Computer-based concept-mapping: Active studying for active learners. "Computing Teacher," 21(1). 6-8, 10-11. (EJ 469 254).

Ausubel, D. (1968). "Educational psychology: A cognitive view." New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

I’ve seen comments from people who have looked at mindmapping but never used the technique: "I never know what to do with the mindmap once I’ve got it." Well, here’s one answer.

Here’s a view of creativity worth reading. It mentions mindmapping only briefly but it does provide a hint to one of the ways around creative blockage. I’ve added one of my own at the foot.

Mind mapping can help with creativity – it frees you from the rigidity of lists for example – and with its visual approach stimulates alternative ways of viewing a problem. But here, Joann adds a barrage of other techniques to help you crack barriers to creativity.

I didn’t see why this shouldn’t work all the year round. No need to wait for the New Year – here it is.