Information

Why should nodes be small in a concept map?

Why should nodes be small in a concept map?

Cañas, A. J., Novak, J. D., & Reiska, P. (2015). How good is my concept map? Am I a good Cmapper?. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 7(1), 6-19.

This paper was published in 2015 by the inventors of Concept mapping. In this paper, they have listed 7 Criteria for good concept maps. One of these criteria is:

Concept labels in maps should be only one or a few words labeling a specific concept.

What is the rationale for this criterion? Is there any empirical study on it? I'd appreciate it if you inform me of studies that have tested or explained why nodes should be small.


How to make a mind map —

You can create a mind map that’s both easy to understand and nice to look at if you follow a few principles of design, which we’ll explore below.

Looking to save time? You can also find a designer via 99designs to create your mind map for you. Use the tips below to write a brief that will get you what you want.

1. Pick a template

Using a mind map template or mind map maker can be a simple way to get started.

Choose a design based on your mind map’s purpose.

Creating a mind map for social media or a guest blog post? Use a colorful mind map with more decorative details like different shapes and different types of connecting lines.

Meanwhile, if you’re creating a mind map to show brainstorming sessions for SEO topic clusters or internal presentations, go with a design that is plainer with clean lines, simple shapes and neutral color schemes. Like this one:

Use a marketing plan mind map to identify different strategies and ideas for each.

You should also pick your design based on:

A rapidly-scrolling social media user, for example, isn’t going to want to peer at your elaborate mind map! But a team planning a detailed project launch will want that level of detail.

2. Start with your central idea and branch out

If you don’t know where to start, plunk your main idea in the center of the mind map and take it from there.

Perhaps you’re a career coach who wants to create a mind map that engages your audience on social media. Your topic is “time management.” You want to show your followers the different ways you can—you guessed it—manage your time.

Plot your tips for time management around the central idea and then explain these tips using bullet points:

Show thought leadership with a mind map that puts your expertise on display.

The results? A mind map that’s clean and organized. Bullet points help you explain your point without adding in extra nodes that will clutter up the space.

Mind mapping for logo design

Let’s say you want to design a logo for your small business. Hm, where to start? Your logo should make your customers feel a certain way. This is also known as a “brand personality.” A law firm probably wants its logo to say “trustworthy” while a yoga studio would prefer a “calm” vibe.

Here’s how you design your mind map:

  1. Write your business name in the center—this is your central idea.
  2. In the nodes connected to the central idea, write words that explain how you want customers to feel about your business, such as: inspired, safe, accepted etc.
  3. Add bullet points to each node explaining how the logo can achieve each feeling.
    • For example, for “safe” you could write: Use blue color scheme (in color psychology, blue is associated with trustworthiness).
    • For “accepted” you could write: Use illustration that’s inclusive as to gender/race.

This study on logo styles will give you a better idea of what formats and colors of logos consumers trust, by industry.

3. Choose a theme

Mind maps intended for clients or the public may benefit from supporting visuals that help explain your point (and give it that coveted “wow factor”).

Apply stock photography to the background to illustrate an idea, such as a sunrise to symbolize “hope.”

Or use an image as the central node instead of text, such as a lightbulb to symbolize “ideas,” or your company logo in place of your brand’s name.

You can also choose themed icons. For example, the icons in the mind map below mostly symbolize learning and growth:

This detailed mind map uses icons to help illustrate its ideas.

Your mind map’s color scheme should also pay attention to color psychology. Look at the example above again. Blue and purple often represent “competence,” “ambition” and “power”—all traditional qualities of inventors and company founders. Try using colors that consumers trust the most when it comes to your particular industry.

The study also found that respondents found grey and yellow color schemes most trustworthy when it came to the tech industry, for example, but they preferred blue and black for education and blue and gray for law firms.

This is probably because blue is a common brand color of top education companies and law firms.

It’s also because cool colors evoke feelings of trust, loyalty and stability—all qualities consumers favor when it comes to education and law.

4. Use color to organize information

Speaking of color, you can also use color in your mind map to draw the reader’s eye to certain information.

This trick is especially useful when you want your boss or client to focus on a specific point.

In the mind map below, the solid back central node draws the eye to the main concept and differentiates it from the rainbow-hued supporting nodes:

This simple format is perfect if you’re new to mind mapping.

Using different colored supporting ideas makes a mind map easier to scan. It also helps separate the ideas from each other.

You can also color code different categories of ideas to help organize your information. The below mind map uses color to categorize different marketing strategies:

Stay organized with a mind map format that moves left to right.

5. Create a visual hierarchy

A visual hierarchy is a fancy way of saying you can use design elements to stress to the reader what’s the most important information—and what isn’t.

You can do this by using different-sized nodes: larger nodes for important ideas and smaller nodes for less important ideas.

Or use double lines to connect the most important concepts and single lines to connect extra supporting information. Or use squares for key ideas and circles for supporting ideas.

In this example, larger circles signify higher-level ideas:

This mind map could be used to plan the “brand vibe” of a logo.


Business Concept Mapping

A concept model is the business-level definition of a conceptual structure. From concept maps you derive concept models, which are more formal and are used as the starting point for business rules specifications (fact models).

Requirements and business solutions are two sides of the same thing, which is why business analysis is a process that deals with both aspects. That unified process is what we call information-driven business analysis.

Concept Mapping: Intuitive visual communication

The new approach is based on a combination of Design Thinking principles and Concept Mapping. It is business-friendly: intuitive, easy to work with, highly communicative and visual. And it helps business organizations develop creative, valid new ways of looking at the business concepts.

The diagram to the left is a small concept map describing some detailed concepts concerning rental cars.

Concept mapping has proven to be highly successful in business analysis. Conceptual modeling (UML, Entity-Relationship diagrams etc.) failed as a business-side tool, but concept mapping - coming from educational psychology - is readily accepted in the business communities.

Contrary to common wisdom business analysis is not "just a documentation issue". It is a learning process - both for the analyst, but also for the business itself. Concept mapping works in this context because it is based on psychology (the theory of meaningful learning), rather than on an engineering mindset. Which implies that business concept mapping is a business task, as it rightfully should be.


3 Concept mapping in education

Rationales for concept mapping in education are based on several connected ideas:

  1. General writing-to-learn arguments like writing favors making connections, or writing in a different genre favors meta-cognitive activities.
  2. Concept maps can prepare writing, assist in exploration and reading and be used as planning tools. More precisely: concept maps can be used as a creativity / brainstorming tool, as note taking tool, as planning tool for writing (in particular hypertexts) or project (e.g. conjecture map), as tool to express and communicate complex ideas.
  3. Concept maps could an assessment tool for the teacher and/or could be used as teaching materials.

Plotnick (1997) lists five purposes of concept mapping:

  • To generate ideas (brainstorming)
  • To design complex structures (long texts, hypermedia, large web sites)
  • To communicate complex ideas
  • To aid learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge and
  • To assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding.

3.1 Some quotes

(to integrate in some re-writing) “[. ] the primary rationale for concept mapping is that students must establish connections between bits of given information, again in a visible medium. Concept mapping can stimulate students to demonstrate relationships among facts and concepts, demonstrate relationships between lower-order and higher-order concepts, and demonstrate relationships between old and new information within the students' own cognitive structures. It is noteworthy that writing of any kind, not just journaling or concept mapping, makes many of the same demands and that the literature on cohesion in writing (Halliday & Hasan, 1976 Lovejoy & Lance, 1991) complements the literature on concept mapping. Concept maps, then, not only serve the same ends as writing (making connections) but also serve as a valuable means to writing (as a prewriting or planning tool) and as a valuable means for the teacher to assess learning-in-progress.” (Germann & Young-soo, 2001:321).

However, findings reported from these authors who studied whether electronic journaling plus electronic concept mapping lead to heigtheing reflection in science classes for future science teachers, are not overwhelming: “It was hoped that use of electronic journaling and concept mapping would promote sustained reflection (as demonstrated in the quality of revised concept maps and quality of revised drafts of the culminating paper). On the surface we were disappointed. [. ] This lack of demonstrated changed in their concept maps leads us to believe that most students were doing all they could to absorb new ideas and begin to make sense of them. If, however, reflection stems from certain habits of questioning and from heightened skepticism and discrimination of sources of evidence, then most students displayed many behavioral change” . (Germann & Young-soo, 2001: 327).

3.2 Learning theoretical foundations

Novak and Cañas (2006) argue that “learning is mediated heavily by language, and takes place primarily by a reception learning process where new meanings are obtained by asking questions and getting clarification of relationships between old concepts and propositions and new concepts and propositions” and refer to Ausubel's assimilation theory:

“According to Ausubel, learning is based upon the kinds of superordinate, representational, and combinatorial processes that occur during the reception of information. A primary process in learning is subsumption in which new material is related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structure on a substantive, non-verbatim basis” Subsumption Theory (D. Ausubel), retrieved 14:03, 18 August 2007 (MEST). According to this theory, cognitive maps can make excellent advance Organizers.

Ausubel makes a clear distinction between simple rote learning and meaningful learning. We summarize Novak and Cañas (2006) interpretation of Ausubel's theory:

  1. Learning materials must be clear and presented with language and examples that related to learner's prior knowledge.
  2. The learner must possess relevant prior knowledge (this is related to condition 1)
  3. The learner must choose to learn meaningfully, i.e. attempt to incorporate new meanings into their prior knowledge, and as consequence, instructional strategies that emphasize relating new knowledge to prior knowledge foster meaningful learning.

Concept maps can help with 1 for the presentation of information and 3 for both presentation and learning activities where the leaner draws concepts maps. These learner made maps then also can be used as evaluation tools and help to organize remediation activities.

Novak and Cañas (2006) also make the point that cognitive maps can favor integration of concepts and reduce misconceptions and cognitive load. Most importantly they help structuring of information which is crucial for retrieval. “We believe one of the reasons concept mapping is so powerful for the facilitation of meaningful learning is that it serves as a kind of template or scaffold to help to organize knowledge and to structure it, even though the structure must be built up piece by piece with small units of interacting concept and propositional frameworks. Many learners and teachers are surprised to see how this simple tool facilitates meaningful learning and the creation of powerful knowledge frameworks that not only permit utilization of the knowledge in new contexts, but also the retention of the knowledge for long periods of time (Novak, 1990 Novak & Wandersee, 1991).”

3.3 Instructional designs with concept maps

According to Novak and Cañas (2006) concept maps can be used to support many kinds of learning activities, from reading expert maps, to various active learning like data collection, report preparation, oral presentation, group collaboration, and finally, evaluation.

The authors then outline a few recommendations for student activities.

  • A teacher may give focus questions. The phrasing of the question will lead to different outcomes. E.g. asking "what is educational technology" only may not lead to the same result as "why do we need educational technology".
  • Use of a "parking lot". “The staring point for the construction of the concept map can be a list of concepts that the teacher wants to make sure all students include in their map”
  • Expert skeleton maps “have been previously prepared by an expert in the topic, and permits both students and teachers to build their knowledge on a solid foundation. "Expert skeleton" concept maps serve as a guide or scaffold or aid to learning in a way analogous to the use of scaffolding in constructing or refurbishing a building.” Novak and Cañas (2006)

The free IHMC CmapTools support such activities. CmapTools provides a variety of features for a variety of the tasks that students perform (Cañas & Novak, 2005). For example

  • Support of collaboration (shared synchronous or asynchronous editing). In addition, "Discussion threads" and "Annotations" in the form of electronic "Post-It" notes can be used to make anecdotal comments on concept maps or during map construction.
  • Search for information based on a concept map leading to an improved map with linked resources.
  • Record the process of constructing a Cmap for later playback, providing support to the teacher to demonstrate the construction of a concept map.
  • Piece-wise display a concept map and associated resources in full-screen mode for oral presentations
  • Graphically compare two Cmaps, allowing the teacher to compare the student's map to his/hers for an initial evaluation.

The concept map can thus become an artifact around which the various activities of the learning process can be centered.

Concept maps as advance organizers

“Ausubel suggests that advance organizers might foster meaningful learning by prompting the student regarding pre-existing superordinate concepts that are already in the student's cognitive structure, and by otherwise providing a context of general concepts into which the student can incorporate progressively differentiated details. Ausubel claims that by presenting a global representation of the knowledge to be learned, advance organizers might foster "integrative reconciliation" of the subdomains of knowledge - the ability to understand interconnections among the basic concepts in the domain.” (Ausubel's Advance Organizers, retrieved 19:35, 2 October 2006 (MEST))

Cognitive maps as concept maps

Läge et al. (2008) suggest a strategy to support assimilative learning. Assimilative (as opposed to accomodation) is understood as integrating new information into existing knowledge or cognitive structures without restructuring the current schema. A stable and most notably a correct memory representation which "spans" the knowledge space is essential. Building elaborately a basic structure as well as the assimilative integration of new information can be eased with the aid of cognitive maps. The authors propose a “general model of a "cognitive map" which is based on geographical representations.In such a cognitive map, a distance measure between the concepts is used to represent the general similarity which an individual sees between each object of a knowledge field.” (Läge, 2008:30). Such maps can be generated with statistical techniques like multidimensional scaling from a matrix of paired similarity judgements for a set of objects.

These maps could be used in the following way. Students are given a map containing a number of concepts (e.g. 20) where the similarities (and therefore the distance) have been defined by experts. Learners then will have to state similarities between new concepts and existing ones. From this a learner's map will be generated. The learner's map then can be compared to the expert's map. “If the structure of a learner-map differs eminently from the expert-map, the person has to be instructed to re-learn the fundamental criteria of the knowledge field in a first step. As soon as the positions of the majority of objects correspond to those of the experts [. ], the correctly placed objects can be used for an assimilative process for learning the incorrectly represented objects: Exercises are presented which specifically focus on a feature comparison by using one correctly placed (well known) object as an anchor for learning the features of the incorrectly represented object. Similarities and differences are specifically presented so that the person learns to better integrate the target object into the existing structure.” (Läge, 2008:32)

Particular kinds of visual maps and languages exist for many purposes. E.g.

3.4 Assessing students schemata about concept maps

Klein (1998:32) describes a schema questionnaire. It “was used to elicit information regarding students' existing schemata about concept mapping. The questionnaire included three questions to assess schemata directly (What is a concept map? How do you make a concept map? What can you use a concept map for?) and 18 questions that sought to get at the level of abstractness of studentsÕ schemata indirectly (9 ratings of the usefulness of concept mapping in various situations, and 9 ratings of the goodness of different concept maps).”


Studying and Constructing Concept Maps: a Meta-Analysis

A concept map is a node-link diagram in which each node represents a concept and each link identifies the relationship between the two concepts it connects. We investigated how using concept maps influences learning by synthesizing the results of 142 independent effect sizes (n = 11,814). A random-effects model meta-analysis revealed that learning with concept and knowledge maps produced a moderate, statistically significant effect (g = 0.58, p < 0.001). A moderator analysis revealed that creating concept maps (g = 0.72, p < 0.001) was associated with greater benefit relative to respective comparison conditions than studying concept maps (g = 0.43, p < 0.001). Additional moderator analyses indicated learning with concept maps was superior to other instructional comparison conditions, and was effective across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and non-STEM knowledge domains. Further moderator analyses, as well as implications for theory and practice, are provided.

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The Interface Conditions

Two developmental psychology experts modified the information contained in a general psychology text to aid in the construction of the concept map-based and web page-based interfaces. The chapter on human development came from the text used by those members of the three classes who volunteered to participate in the experiment. The development chapter was not required reading for the course. The concept maps and web pages were built from the definition lists at the end of the chapter, from the chapter outline and headings, and from the chapter itself.

Concept Map-based Browser

As mentioned earlier, the concept map-based browser was constructed using the software package CMapTools developed at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. In the current experiment, the concept map-based organization of the information consisted of three hierarchical levels of concept maps. Figure 2 shows the first level or "Overview" map, which provides links to the maps on developmental time periods, including prenatal, infancy and childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Figure 2: Top Level Concept Map: Overview of Development


Level Two contained the developmental time periods per se (Figure 3). The individual concept maps covering physical, social-emotional, cognitive, and moral development in infancy and childhood were the Level Three concept maps (see Figure 4). Moral development was also covered in a Level Three concept map for Adolescence and Adulthood. Within the concept maps, information was arranged in a hierarchical manner, with higher level or more inclusive concepts occurring higher on the screen than lower level or more specific concepts.

Figure 3: Level Two Concept Map: One of the Developmental Time Periods

Figure 4: Level Three Concept Map: Cognitive Development in Infancy and Childhood

Web page-based Browser

Web pages were created using Adobe Pagemill ™ to cover the same material in the concept map-based interface, both of which paralleled the information contained in the textbook chapter. Figure 5 shows the top level web page that corresponds to the concept map presented in Figure 2. Wording in both the concept map-based and web page-based interfaces was made as similar as possible without violating normal sentence structure and related content of the web pages. Accessing resources in the concept map-based interface required more time than loading pages in the web page interface (due to the early version of the CMapTools software used). Loading time was equated by using software that added a delay to web pages.


Figure 5: Top Level Web Page


Introduction

Research has found that summarising an information source is an effective strategy for obtaining cognitive and metacognitive learning outcomes (Anderson & Thiede, 2008, Gajria et al., 2007). For example, in an experiment in which university students studied a 2800-word text passage and took a post-test, those instructed to write a prose summary outperformed those who did not write a summary, even though total learning time was the same (Foos, 1995). Concept maps, which are diagrams showing networks of concept nodes connected by relational links, are an alternative medium for summarising information. During a Finnish medical school entrance examination in which students were required to write essays using 17 pages of source information, 32 of the 502 applicants spontaneously constructed concept maps on scratch paper that was provided (Slotte & Lonka, 1999). The concept maps mostly summarised the source information rather than expressed new ideas. Slotte and Lonka found that students' success on the examination was related to the complexity of their concept maps, and that students who chose to draw concept maps or write prose summaries were more likely to succeed on the test than those who made verbatim notes or wrote nothing on the scratch paper.

Summarisation research has been largely restricted to individual learning, with little investigation of the processes and effects of collaborative summarisation. The research reported in this article compared collaborative writing to collaborative concept mapping and investigated the role of cognitive ability and ability grouping in moderating the learning outcomes of these summarisation strategies.

A summary of an expository text is a representation that preserves the gist or essential meaning of the original. In terms of van Dijk and Kintsch's (1983) text processing theory, a summary expresses the semantic macrostructure that is inferred by capable readers as they read the source text (Friend, 2001). According to van Dijk and Kintsch's theory, by analysing sentences into propositions and deleting, linking, generalising and inferring propositions, readers construct a hierarchy of propositions that encompasses a detailed microstructural model of the source text and a condensed macrostructural model derived from it. In constructing higher level propositions readers are enabled by their cognitive abilities and guided by their prior knowledge of content and genre schemas.

In the research reported here, a summary was either expressed as prose written in the learners' own words or as a concept map. Prose essays and lists are probably the most common summarisation formats used in education. An experienced biology teacher we interviewed, who has served as a mentor for teacher education in the area of Germany in which our research was conducted, reported that having students write summaries in an essay format is a common teaching practice and is seen by biology teachers as a legitimate instructional method. Unlike concept maps, the sequential structure of prose often represents any multiple relational connections for a concept by repeating the concept at places in the text where related concepts occur (Taber, 1994). Consequently, the importance and relational centrality of a concept in a prose summary is signalled by the number of times it is repeated (Friend, 2001). Concept maps use considerably less text than prose formats to present the same information. They represent each proposition as a node-link-node structure in which the link is labelled to indicate the relationship between the concepts (Novak & Gowin, 1984). Concept maps can display many relationships involving a single concept without re-writing the concept name (Chmielewski & Dansereau, 1998, Toth et al., 2002), allowing the relational centrality of a concept to be signalled by the number of links that connect to it. Because concept maps are less amenable to verbatim reproduction of source texts than prose summaries, they have been recognised as a suitable medium for summarising text passages (Cañas et al., 2003, Kinchin, 2000).

Theorists have proposed several reasons why working with concept maps may enhance learning. Compared to text formats, they may allow the learner to perform more semantic processing in visuospatial working memory and avoid overloading verbal working memory (Winn, 1991). Unlike natural language, concept maps are restricted to a simple, non-recursive syntax in which propositions are represented by regular subject-verb-object structures. The simpler syntax of concept maps may make them easier to read for learners who have low verbal ability or are less adept in the language of instruction (Oɽonnell, Dansereau, & Hall, 2002). Concept mapping, which is the construction of concept maps, requires fewer grammatical decisions than writing prose and, consequently, may allow more cognitive resources to be allocated directly to the learning goals. The visuospatial characteristics of concept maps, especially the placement and linking of nodes, may signal hierarchical relationships and similarity relationships among concepts in a way that can be more immediately perceived.

Hundreds of primary studies and two meta-analyses have investigated the instructional use of concept maps (Horton et al., 1993, Nesbit & Adesope, 2006). The research has found that both constructing and studying concept maps are beneficial learning activities, even for long-term retention (Haugwitz & Sandmann, 2009a). However, several important caveats have emerged. First, some of the largest reported effect sizes favouring concept mapping can be attributed to the use of comparison treatments, such as lectures, for which the level of learner engagement was not assessed and might be presumed to be low. In the handful of studies that compared concept mapping with activities that presented similar levels of learner engagement, such as writing prose summaries, the instructional advantages of concept mapping were found to be slight (Nesbit & Adesope, 2006). Second, there is evidence from a few studies suggesting that the advantages of using concept maps may accrue only to students having lower verbal ability. Third, there is insufficient research on collaborative concept mapping. Partly this problem is due to a failure by researchers to distinguish in their reporting between group learning (e.g., the teacher presents information to a class and asks each student to individually summarise it in a concept map) and collaborative learning (e.g., the teacher gives information to a small group of students and asks them to summarise it in a single concept map through a communicative process that engages every group member). Fourth, as noted by Bunnting, Coll, and Campbell (2006), the duration of concept mapping interventions in biology education, the domain of the research reported in this article, has tended to be too brief to allow generalisation to applications of concept mapping in real classroom settings.

Learners' cognitive abilities may affect the relative benefit they obtain from writing and concept mapping. Aggregating over two experiments that compared studying expository text to studying pre-constructed concept maps, Nesbit and Adesope (2006) found that participants with low verbal ability learned more under the concept map conditions than the expository text conditions (d = 0.44, p < .05) and those with high verbal ability learned more under the expository text conditions (d = − 0.33) although the latter difference was not statistically detected. In research with high school biology students, Schmid and Telaro (1990) investigated the interaction between the instructional use of concept mapping (compared to a traditional teaching method consisting mainly of lectures) and reading ability. They found that students who had low reading ability performed better under the concept mapping condition and students who had high reading ability showed no effect of treatment. These results led them to conclude that “concept mapping is effective when it counts most” (p. 84). A possible explanation for this pattern is that concept mapping cues low-ability students to perform like high-ability students, that is, to process incoming information in an organised and ordered manner (Cañas et al., 2003).

We speculate that for students having lower cognitive ability the simpler and more visually salient node–link–node syntax of concept maps makes the propositional knowledge they represent more accessible than the context-embedded propositions in expository prose. Research comparing writing and concept mapping as learning strategies has ignored the role of cognitive ability as a potential moderating variable. In an investigation of the cognitive factors underlying the concept mapping of 38 university students, Hilbert and Renkl (2008) were unable to statistically detect correlations between the participants' cognitive ability and the characteristics of the maps (number of nodes, links and cross-links) they constructed. Although learners with higher cognitive abilities probably do tend to produce concept map summaries with more nodes and links, they may have an even greater advantage when writing prose summaries. We hypothesise that concept mapping offers greater relative advantage as a summarisation strategy to learners with low cognitive abilities because it provides the visual cues they need to be aware that a proposition is present or absent, complete or incomplete. For example, if they see they have constructed two concept nodes but no link, they may be prompted to consider the relationship between the concepts if they see they have made a link that is not labelled, they may be prompted to consider the nature of the relationship between the concepts. We further speculate that the advantages concept maps offer learners with lower cognitive abilities may be amplified when the maps are used to communicate ideas in a collaborative setting.

Collaborative and cooperative learning occur when learners interact to construct individual and shared knowledge (Ciani et al., 2008, Dillenbourg, 1999). From a pedagogical perspective, collaborative learning is fostered by tasking a small group of students with closed- or open-ended problems. Students address these within the group by offering and receiving assistance and explaining their understanding of the available information and its implications (Gillies, 2003). It has been theorised that learning outcomes are enhanced when cooperative tasks are structured so that learners perceive their personal success to depend on the success of the group (Slavin, 1996) and the task requires them to verbalise their understanding to others in the group (Lemke, 1990). In a recent meta-analysis of teaching strategies in science education (Schroeder, Scott, Tolson, Huang, & Lee, 2007), a comparison of collaborative learning with teacher-centred strategies found a weighted mean effect size of 0.95 standard deviations in favour of collaborative learning.

Group composition and the process of group formation may have complex effects on the success of collaborative learning. When interpreting the effects of cognitive abilities in collaborative learning groups, one needs to consider the composition of the groups, particularly the group size and whether ability is homogeneously or heterogeneously distributed. Low-ability students may be able to learn more when placed in small groups or dyads with at least one high-ability student who can mentor other students or take on cognitively demanding aspects of the task that are necessary but extrinsic to the learning goals. Low-ability students in homogeneous groups may collectively lack the knowledge needed to explain relevant information and provide crucial types of mutual assistance (Dillenbourg et al., 1996, Lou et al., 1996). Yet even if teachers had complete knowledge of group composition effects, it is not certain that they should use that knowledge to form students into theoretically optimal groups. According to Deci and Ryan's self determination theory, allowing students to exercise choice and showing them they are understood and trusted to make choices (autonomy support) enhances their intrinsic motivation to participate in learning activities (Grolnick, Ryan, & Deci, 1991). Ciani et al. (2008) investigated the effects of student choice in group formation. Learners who were allowed to choose their groups reported greater sense of intrinsic motivation, classroom community, and autonomy support than learners assigned to their groups by teachers.

The separately demonstrated benefits of concept mapping and collaborative learning suggest that combining these two instructional methods may be an especially effective way to enhance knowledge construction (Cañas et al., 2003, Stoyanova & Kommers, 2002). Researchers in science education have found that collaborative concept mapping is an effective learning strategy that compares favourably with activities such as listening to lectures (Czerniak & Haney, 1998, Esiobu & Soyibo, 1995) and reading text (Amer, 1994). While collaboratively constructing a concept map, students must discuss concept arrangements and their interconnected relationships (Van Boxtel, van der Linden, Roelofs, & Erkens, 2002) which is a process that likely focuses attention on divergent interpretations and resolves them. Roth and Roychoudhury (1993, p. 505) suggest that concept maps “may provide an ideal context for overt negotiation of meaning and construction of knowledge because they require individuals to externalise their propositional frameworks . particularly when students collaboratively construct these maps”.

Research by Okebukola and Jegede (1988) found that biology students who created concept maps collaboratively learned more than those who constructed concept maps individually. In experiments comparing the use of text and concept maps as information resources in collaborative learning, students using concept map resources learned more than those using text resources (Patterson, Dansereau, & Newbern, 1992) and students with lower verbal ability benefited more from the use of concept map resources than students with higher verbal ability (Patterson et al., 1993, Rewey et al., 1992). It has been proposed that using concept maps does not help high-ability students because the map characteristics conflict with the strategies they usually employ or because they have already reached their functional ceiling (Patterson et al., 1993). The only prior research that compared the achievement outcomes of concept map construction and writing as collaborative learning activities was conducted with German secondary students studying chemistry (Fechner, 2009). It found no statistically significant difference in achievement between collaborative concept mapping and collaborative writing.

The study of collaborative learning is a complex enterprise potentially involving a host of theories, variables and levels of analysis (Dillenbourg et al., 1996). We chose to examine effects of three factors, namely summarisation strategy (concept mapping vs. writing), individual cognitive ability, and group ability context, on the quality of group summaries and achievement test performance. We define the group ability context for each student as the highest ability held by another student within the same group. The simpler syntax and more visually salient meaning of concept maps may allow students with low cognitive abilities to perform more easily the peer-teaching roles that are available to them in a homogeneous group. Peer-teaching performance is likely a crucial determinant of successful collaborative learning, amplifying the learning outcomes for mentors and mentees within the group. For low-ability students placed in groups with students having high cognitive abilities, concept mapping is not as crucial because they are less likely to mentor other students and more likely to be mentored by high-ability students who are better able to explain relations between concepts without reference to a concept map.

The aim of this research was to investigate the moderating role of cognitive ability and group ability context in the causal relationship between collaborative summarisation strategies (prose writing vs. concept mapping) and achievement. Four hypotheses were posed. The first two hypotheses focus on the quality of the summaries (concept maps or essays) produced by the learning groups and the relationship of summary quality to achievement where quality is defined as the number of correct relations between concepts.

Collaboratively generated concept map summaries contain more correct relations than collaboratively written essay summaries.

The number of correct relations in summaries predicts achievement outcomes at the learning group level.

The last two hypotheses refer to the effects of learning strategy (concept mapping or essay writing) on achievement and its interaction with ability factors. As prior research suggests that the use of concept maps may make little or no difference to high-ability learners, for the last hypothesis we focused attention on the collaborative environment of students with lower cognitive ability.

Students learn more from constructing concept map summaries than writing prose summaries, and those having low cognitive ability obtain greater learning benefit from concept mapping than those having high cognitive ability.

For students with low cognitive ability, group composition (high or low group ability context) interacts with summarisation strategy such that those placed in homogeneous low-ability groups obtain greater benefit from concept mapping than those placed in groups with high-ability students.


Free Concept Map Templates

Concept maps were an innovative learning tool created in 1984 by Gowin and Novak. It is a visual aid that will help you list down ideas, connect them and depict them in a hierarchical structure. You can use a concept map to understand a topic or show the flow of events or ideas.

Types of Concept Map

Let’s have a look at the four main types of concept maps:

Hierarchical Map: This is a chronological type of map that lists the general information on the top and gets more specific as it moves downwards. The map can be sequenced according to the time those particular events happened or even their importance.

System Map: The system map is the most complicated one of the bunch because of how detailed it is. It maps all the possible information and their relationships, which requires a lot of analytical skills.

Flow Chart Map: The flow chart map is the most linear concept map with everything organized and arranged logically.

Spider Map: Spider map is usually used when there is a central theme, and all the data revolves around it. The main point is at the center, and you keep on adding ideas around it. This is one of the most straightforward maps to construct and read.

These are some types of concept maps that you can use. However, you need to select the type according to the question or the topic you are addressing.

Part 2: Free Concept Map Templates

Rather than starting from scratch every time, you need a concept map template. EdrawMax Template Gallery contains an array of creative templates (made by Edraw users) that you will find for any occasion you need. Let’s have a look at some of them.

1. Blank Concept Map Template

A blank concept map will help you structure and create a relationship between ideas. You have more liberty to create a concept map as you want, add colors, and structure it. In the workspace, you can add shapes and background images to create a more attractive map.

2. Nursing Concept Map Template

The nursing concept map is primarily used to illustrate a patient’s condition and nurses’ reaction to that. It can be used in nursing education too for explaining essential concepts. If you are a nurse, it is also useful in keeping track of important information regarding patients’ data or any information you are still trying to learn.

3. Science Concept Map Template

This concept map is excellent for delivering any complex scientific ideas and relationships. You can easily modify it to adjust to different topics like organ systems, food chains, evolution, and explain history related to important discoveries. By making a concept map, it will be easier to understand how two processes link.

4. Global Warming Concept Map Template

While teaching students or people how lethal global warming is, a concept map will be quite handy. You can link different consequences of global warming, its causes, and prevention in an organized and more understandable way. With a visual aid, you will find it easier to explain the cause.

5. Brand Concept Map Template

For an organization to be strong, all the employees need to be on the same page regarding the brand and brand image. A concept map is a great way to explain that. You can edit the pre-existing brand concept map template by adding your company colors and logo for a better visual understanding.

6. Nervous System Concept Map Template

The nervous system can be quite a tricky subject to understand, considering how reflex actions are created and impulses are generated with each stimulus. All of this can be far easily understood when using a concept map. With the help of arrows, shapes, and background images, the whole process will look far less daunting.

7. Macromolecules Concept Map Template

For chemistry teachers, who find it very hard to explain complex topics, a concept map can be a great idea. Using this macromolecules concept map template, you can efficiently explain the process, its uses, and the monomers and develop the students’ interest in even the most boring topics.

8. Time Management Concept Map Template

The time management concept map is an innovative way to organize your daily tasks in a journal. You can list all the essential tasks on the top or categorize them according to work or personal. You can make one for a whole week or even one for each day. This way, to will remember to complete all the critical tasks.

9. Project Management Concept Map Template

Project management can be quite hectic, and an excellent way to organize the scope and budget is by using a concept map. This concept map will help you create all the tasks, assign responsibilities or create a rough idea and estimate for the clients. Concept maps will ensure everyone is on the same page making communication easier.

10. Business Real Estate Concept Map Template

Real Estate Concept Maps can be quite useful in discussing multiple real estate types and their pros and cons. This will help clients to make informed decisions. With a Real Estate Concept Map template, you just have to fill in the information. You can design it with whatever theme you want, and it will be done in no time.

11. Health Concept Map Template

A health concept map can be quite handy for a doctor to explain diseases to certain patients. They can be useful in keeping patient histories and the medicines they have taken before. Using the concept can help doctors and nurses ensure the patients are getting what they require.

12. Bubble Concept Map Template

While using EdrawMax, you are not limited to a single set of shapes. You can use rectangles, diamonds, triangles, circles, etc. A bubble map essentially uses circles to identify relationships between different items. You can link ideas, create hierarchies or just show a process flow.

13. Energy Concept Map Template

Learning all about energy can be fun using this concept map. You can learn about different forms of energy and how one energy is converted into the other. The concept map will ensure that you understand the law of conservation of energy and examples of how we use energy every day.

14. Creative Concept Map Template

Creative people are often bombarded with ideas that are hard to keep track of them. In that case, using a concept map will help list ideas and link them to create a whole story. A concept map will help write stories, track characters, background, and relationships with other characters.

15. Climate Change Concept Map Template

Climate change has become one of the most critical issues of the 21st century. A concept map might help those who still don’t understand the gravity of the issue. By listing its consequences and causes, people may able to understand how they are affecting their surroundings.

16. Cell Cycle Concept Map Template

One of the essential topics of biology includes the cell cycle. It can be an ordeal trying to remember all the phases and all the changes that take place. To remember it all, you can use a concept map listing down the differences in each stage.

17. Pneumonia Concept Map Template

Another great use of a concept map is to list all the relevant details regarding a particular disease or disorder. You can keep track of any symptoms, causes, and remedies. People who are studying medicine can use this to learn all the information. Those who have a sick relative will find all the well organized information handy.

18. Chemistry Concept Map Template

Chemistry is made easy with this Chemistry Concept Map Template. Teachers can use this one to quickly create a lesson plan that is both visually appealing and interesting. For concepts like atoms and the periodic table, this map will help identify elements, where elements are found, their compounds that will enhance students’ learning ability.

19. Math Concept Map Template

Math is one of the more challenging subjects to understand. Difficult topics will be made easy using concept maps. This map can explain definitions show solved problems, any related equations, and any terminologies. Using a visual aid will allow students to understand concepts and link ideas better.

20. Influence of Media Concept Map Template

Here is a concept map about the influence of media from 4 different perspectives. It emphasizes the importance of media and the vital role of it. Media influence is the actual force exerted by a media message, resulting in either a change or reinforcement in audience or individual beliefs.

Part 3: When to Use a Concept Map

Teaching New Concepts

You will find that mind maps are a very effective way to introduce students or fellow peers to a new topic. The visual aid will help process ideas and make connections, and you move forward with the topic. Hierarchical concept maps will be useful here to ensure students can grasp the essential ideas and points and then organize them.

The business will find it advantageous to use concept maps to demonstrate user perspective. It can be used to show customer journeys and make efficient business plans.

Understand Relations between Concepts

Concept maps are vital as they show relationships between ideas. As an essential visual aid, they will help identify and remember how one concept branches out and what thoughts are connected.

Part 4: How to Create a Concept Map

Now to the real question: How to create a concept map easily? EdrawMax is one of the top-selling software to help you create a concept map in a few simple steps

Step 1: 1. Open EdrawMax and click on [New] menu. Navigate to [Mind Map] in the left pane and select [Concept Map]. Then click on [Plus] button.

Step 2: You will be directed to the workspace. On the left side, there are shapes that you can use to create a concept map. Use the right pane to edit the shapes and personalize them.

Step 3: Choose your topic and drag & drop it on the canvas, which will be your map’s main and starting point.

Step 4: Draw more shapes, add-in ideas, and connect them to the main topic. Add any background shapes to make your chart more colorful and attractive.

Step 5: Establish the hierarchy for your map to make sure the more important concepts are on the top. Recheck and fill in any gaps of information you might have missed out.

Step 6: You can share the map with colleagues or invite team members to collaborate on the map collectively.

Part 5: How to Add a Concept Map in Word/PDF/PowerPoint

It can be a nightmare adding visuals into Word that are outside the basic SmartArt function. A better way to do it is using EdrawMax and then exporting your drawings to editable word files. If you want to insert a concept map in Word/Excel/PowerPoint, follow the simple steps below and make a quick and easy map.

Step 1: Once you have created your concept map, click on [File] tab.

Step 2: Select [Export & Send] from the left pane and select [Office] and click on [Word].

Step 3: In the dialogue box, name your file and click [Save]. Your diagram will be saved as a word file. You can try to export your concept map as a PDF document, PowerPoint or Excel file in the same method.

Part 6: Conclusion

Concept maps are a very efficient way to teach a new concept to pitch an idea. They will help you to understand better, clarify your thoughts and connect ideas. EdrawMax is one great tool to draw quick concept maps that are professional and easy to make. Give it a try, and all other diagram tools will pale in comparison.

See More Pre-Made Concept Map Templates by Edraw


What’s in a name? Cognitive Mapping, Mind Mapping, Concept Mapping.

When Banxia® first started to introduce Decision Explorer® to a wider audience (including qualitative data researchers) we promoted it as tool to be used anywhere! Let me explain why- that was the feedback that we were getting from existing users. Decision Explorer® was being used for a diverse range of applications. We heard about applications ranging from “doodling” with ideas to help explore personal issues, to developing corporate strategy from personnel development planning to outlining the plot of a novel from risk analysis to exploring organizational learning, and a whole stack of applications in between. A wide range, as you can see. But presenting people with a “blank piece of paper” and leaving it up to their imagination, isn’t the easiest way to engage peoples’ interest!

What is Decision Explorer®?

Decision Explorer® is an ideas mapping tool (a “map” being a network of ideas and their associated links). It can be described as a qualitative data management and analysis tool (albeit not in the “code and retrieve” mold), in that it deals solely with qualitative data (ideas). It is also a “visual thinking” tool. Its purpose is to help you play with ideas, to structure them and explore the relationships between them and, in so doing, to move your thinking forward. The software is used to generate a visual representation of your, your interviewee’s or a group’s ideas about a particular issue. It gives you a means of capturing and structuring ideas. Decision Explorer® was developed initially as a tool to support a particular kind of cognitive mapping (Eden 1988, 1998, Ackermann et al. 1992), the underlying concepts of which were adapted from Kelly’s (1955) work on personal construct theory. Its development was in the field of strategic management and, although its uses have spread more widely, at present strategic management remains the most widely written about area of application.

With Decision Explorer® you capture ideas as short phrases of text and link them appropriately to express their relationship to one another. In cognitive mapping the most commonly used form of link represents a causal (“may lead to”) relationship, but you can use a variety of user defined link types to express visually other forms of relationship. Decision Explorer® is, in many ways, a “neutral” tool, in that it is your ideas and the structure that you develop which convey your (individual, group’s or research subject’s) understanding of a situation. You do not have to work with a central idea, from which all others stem (unless you want to). Nor do you have to use any particular structure of linking (such as imposed by a tree structure or “fish bone” diagram), again, unless you want to. With Decision Explorer® you are building up a database of relationships and then using the tools at your disposal to explore the model that you have built, elaborating it and developing your thinking about the problem or issue under consideration.

Visual thinking tools focus on two things, making ideas explicit (and therefore shareable) and exploring the relationships between ideas. Not everybody takes easily to working with maps of ideas but, like many techniques, once you get the hang of it it becomes second nature. I am sure that you are aware of the old adage that “a picture paints a thousand words”, and that is very much where Decision Explorer® is coming from. It helps you develop a graphical representation of peoples’ thoughts and the relationships between them, encouraging reflection, making ideas explicit and shareable.

Cognitive maps, mind maps and concept maps.

Working for Banxia® I am often asked what the difference is between cognitive mapping (Eden 1988, 1998, Ackermann et al. 1992), mind mapping (Buzan 1993) and concept mapping (Novak 1984, 1993). Decision Explorer® was designed, primarily, to support cognitive mapping and so certain analysis and navigation tools work best when the cognitive mapping discipline is followed. At first glance cognitive mapping (as implemented in Decision Explorer®) appears to be similar to Buzan’s mind-mapping technique and Novak’s concept mapping, but while there are similarities, the three techniques differ in some fundamental ways. One of the differences between concept and cognitive maps and mind maps is that a mind map 1 has only one main or central concept, whereas concept and cognitive maps may have several focuses. The mind map structure is “tree like” – branching out from the central idea – while concept and cognitive maps are generally complex networks. A mind map consists of a central word or concept (but preferably a picture), around which ideas that relate to that image are drawn. You start in the center of the page, with the main idea, and work outward in all directions, producing a growing and organized structure composed of key words and images. The images are an aid to memory and, as illustrated in Buzan’s book “The Mind Map Book”, these hand drawn images can be quite spectacular! “The full power of the Mind Map is realized by having a central image instead of a central word, and by using images where ever appropriate” (Buzan 1993).

Example of a Mind Map – Click on the thumbnail below to view full image

Another difference between the methods is that cognitive mapping is a causal based mapping technique. In a mind map links are usually “passive”, not representing anything more than association. In concept maps the links are labeled with descriptions, defining the association between concepts. The ideas in mind maps and concepts maps are often single words, which in the case of mind maps, are usually chosen to improve retention in one’s memory. The illustration above shows a mind map developed and presented using Decision Explorer®. The limitation here is that Decision Explorer® is not (and was not intended as) a graphics package, so the sort of illustrations that Buzan suggests are not possible with Decision Explorer®.

Three illustrations are given in this article, so that you can contrast the three different forms of mapping. The mind map (shown above) is the start of a reflection on relocating a small business. The concept map, shown below, deals with a research project and some of the issues that surround its successful execution. The cognitive map, which is shown towards the end of this article, was developed with the marketing department of a company, looking at ways of improving service levels within their organization. What is shown is only a part of a larger map.

In the 1960s, Joseph D. Novak, at Cornell University, began to study the concept mapping technique. His work drew on the theories of David Ausubel (1968) who stressed the importance of prior knowledge in being able to learn about new concepts. In a concept map the nodes are labeled with descriptive text – a word or short phrase representing the concept, and the links are labeled (sometimes only implicitly) to express a relationship type. Both concept and cognitive maps allow you to see the connections between ideas you already have to connect new ideas and to organize ideas in a logical but flexible structure.

Example of a Concept Map – Click on the thumbnail below to view full image

As mentioned previously, cognitive mapping (following Eden and Ackermanns’ approach) is based on Personal Construct Theory (Kelly 1955). Ideas are referred to as “concepts”. These are short phrases expressing an idea, single words are not used and the aim is, where appropriate, to incorporate an active verb into the idea to give a sense of action and direction. Ideas (concepts) may be mono- or bi-polar. Bi-polar concepts are important because they add richness to the ideas in the map, capturing the “shades of grey” and nuances in peoples’ thinking. The concept “long queues at X-ray rather than 3 minutes or less” is an example of a bi-polar concept. This person might have expressed a different idea, such as “long queues at X-ray rather than no check at all”. Both statements give us more insight into this person’s preferences. “Long queues at X-ray” is the emergent pole of the concept and the statement after “rather than” is called the “contrast” or “opposite pole”. In Decision Explorer® the “rather than” phrase is represented by three dots (.), an ellipsis.

Cognitive mapping encourages you to look for a “hierarchy” in the ideas that you are mapping. The hierarchy is one of cause and effect, means/ ends, how/ why, working towards identifying desired and (as a consequence undesirable) outcomes. The terminology used to refer to the outcomes depends on the setting in which the technique is being used. They might be referred to as goals/ not goals, aspirations/ fears and so on. Most links are directional, representing causal relationships and are read as “may lead to”. Negative links can be used. These switch the relationship between the concepts, so that the emergent pole of the tail concept (the concept at the start of the link) relates to the contrasting (or opposite) pole of the head concept (the concept at the arrowhead of the link). Concept reference number can be turned off, as can the “hidden link” display. Hidden links show links to other concepts, not shown on the current display.

Example of a Cognitive Map – Click on the thumbnail below to view full image

In cognitive mapping, as with the other forms of mapping, the full meaning of the ideas is given by the “whole picture”. Links between ideas add further contextual information to the concepts themselves, and there is meaning through the content of the ideas – the way in which they are expressed as short phrases – and through the context within which they sit. In cognitive mapping you are not limited in the number of ideas that you can link to one another. While concept mapping “allows” multiple links between ideas, mind mapping typically does not use multiple links between ideas. In cognitive mapping multiple links between ideas are not at all unusual and in Decision Explorer® there is no limitation on the number of links between concepts.

If you use the cognitive mapping technique, then you are also building a map that is amenable to further analysis. Decision Explorer® provides analysis facilities to help identify concepts that have particular significance, for example concepts with a high number of surrounding links (“ins”, “outs” or both). Cluster Analysis is used to identify groups of concepts that are tightly linked together, which typically cover a particular area of the issue being mapped. You can display each cluster individually (if you wish), print them out for feedback or use them as a focus for discussion. The software allows you to obtain reports of complete chains of argument in the map, from “triggering event” to outcome. The collapse tool allows you to “hide” detail, and just see an overview of the map or any part of it. This is another tool to help you manage complexity and something that simple mapping software does not have. The benefits of the analysis functions are important – without them it is hard to efficiently manage and draw conclusions from large, complex maps. There are over 40 analysis commands in Decision Explorer®, which help you to navigate and explore your data.

What people say about Decision Explorer®

Decision Explorer® has been reviewed in a number of places over the years, the most recent independent review being in the October 1999 issue of the American journal “OR/MS Today”.

“. the cognitive mapping technique, implemented in Decision Explorer®, would make a useful addition to any OR/MS toolkit”. OR/MS Today, October 1999. OR/MS Today is the journal of the American Institute for Operational Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) .

“Mapping gives you a good non-linear, inter-linked summary of what the themes in an interview are. I need to see what I don’t have, to contrast different peoples’ views of what is real”. Seonaidh McDonald, Lecturer, Sheffield School of Management.

“[Decision Explorer®’s] development in a business research environment has certainly lifted it above other mind-mapping programs in terms of detail, and means that the program supports and understands a much wider range of link and concept types”. PC Direct, December 1994

Conclusions

The cognitive mapping technique is not directly comparable to mind mapping or concept mapping. The technique was designed primarily for issue/ problem structuring, in the context of action orientated strategic management interventions. To the qualitative researcher, cognitive mapping and Decision Explorer® offer an alternative means of gathering and structuring data, as well as a means of structuring thinking about research issues, for example in project planning at the outset of a research study. Cognitive mapping can be used to capture the research subjects’ rather than the researchers’ perceptions of the relationships between ideas (instead of the researcher inferring these relationships). The technique and the tool (Decision Explorer®) can be used with individuals and when working with groups. Although it was designed, initially, to support a particular form of mapping (cognitive mapping), there are many different ways in which Decision Explorer® can be used. It is also programmable and has dynamic data exchange (DDE) capabilities, so it can exchange information with other programs.

Ackermann, F., Eden, C., Cropper, S,. (1992) “Getting started with cognitive mapping”. Tutorial paper, 7th Young OR Conference. (Available from Banxia Software Ltd.)

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

Buzan, T. (1993) The Mind Map Book. London: BBC Books

Eden, C. (1988) “Cognitive mapping”, European Journal of Operational Research, 36:1-13

Eden, C., Ackermann, F., (1998) “Making Strategy: the journey of strategic management”. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Kelly, G.A., (1995) The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton.

Novak, J.D,. (1993). “How do we learn our lesson?: Taking students through the process”. The Science Teacher, 60(3), 50-55.

Novak, J.D., Gowin, D. B,. (1984). Learning How to Learn. New York: Cambridge University Press.

1. Mind Map® is a registered trademark of the Buzan Organization Limited.


ERICDIGESTS.ORG

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.

PURPOSE OF CONCEPT MAPPING

--To generate ideas (brainstorming)

--To design complex structures (long texts, hypermedia, large web sites)

--To communicate complex ideas

--To aid learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge and

--To assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding.

ADVANTAGES OF CONCEPT MAPPING

--Visual symbols are quickly and easily recognized

--Minimum use of text makes it easy to scan for a word, phrase, or the general idea and

--Visual representation allows for development of a holistic understanding that words alone cannot convey.

APPLICATIONS OF CONCEPT MAPPING

(2) Hypertext Design Tool: As the World Wide Web becomes an increasingly powerful and ubiquitous medium for disseminating information, writers must move from writing text in linear fashion to creating hypertext documents with links to other documents. The structural correspondence between hypertext design and concept maps makes concept mapping a suitable tool for designing the conceptual structure of hypertext. The structure of both a hypertext document and a concept map can be seen as a directed graph or a knowledge graph (Conklin, 1987). A concept map placed on the Web in hypertext may also serve as a Web navigational tool if there are clickable areas on the concept map that take the user immediately to indicated parts of the hypertext document.

Designing hypertext is an activity with inherent problems. Botafogo, Rivlin & Schneiderman (1992) describe a dilemma faced by designers of hypertext authoring systems. In order to stimulate authors to write clearly structured hypertext (usually hierarchical), they have to decide when to force authors to reflect upon the structure of their work. Imposing a hierarchical structure from the beginning may result in too many restrictions for the author, while any effort to stimulate hierarchy afterwards is too late, and it may even be impossible for authors to restructure the jungle of nodes and relationships. Concept mapping may be a good intermediate step for authors to use to reflect upon their work when developing hypermedia. (3) Communication Tool: A concept map produced by one person represents one possible way to structure information or ideas. This is something that can be shared with others. A concept map produced by a group of people represents the ideas of the group. In either case, concept mapping can be used as a communication tool for people to use to discuss concepts and the relationships between the concepts. They may try to agree on a common structure to use as a basis for further action.

(4) Learning Tool: Novak's original work with concept mapping dealt with learning. Constructivist learning theory argues that new knowledge should be integrated into existing structures in order to be remembered and receive meaning. Concept mapping stimulates this process by making it explicit and requiring the learner to pay attention to the relationship between concepts. Jonassen (1996) argues that students show some of their best thinking when they try to represent something graphically, and thinking is a necessary condition for learning. Experiments have shown that subjects using concept mapping outperform non-concept mappers in longer term retention tests (Novak, et al, 1983).

Concept mapping is also gaining inroads as a tool for problem-solving in education. Concept mapping may be used to enhance the problem-solving phases of generating alternative solutions and options. Since problem-solving in education is usually done in small groups, learning should also benefit from the communication enhancing properties of concept mapping.

(5) Assessment Tool: Concept maps can also be used as assessment tools. The research team around Joseph Novak at Cornell found that an important by-product of concept mapping is its ability to detect or illustrate the "misconceptions" learners may have as explanations of content matter. The conceptions students may have are often incomplete and deficient leading to misunderstanding of instruction. Concept maps drawn by students express their conceptions (or their misconceptions) and can help the instructor diagnose the misconceptions that make the instruction ineffective (Ross & Munby, 1991).

ADVANTAGES OF COMPUTER SUPPORT FOR CONCEPT MAPPING

--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."

--Dynamic Linking: Most computer assisted concept mapping tools allow the user to point and drag a concept or group of concepts to another place on the map and automatically update all the appropriate links.

--Conversion: Once a concept map is created using a computer, the program usually allows the user to convert the map to different electronic formats. These can be vector or bitmapped images, a text outline, or even a hypertext structure. These electronic formats can then be stored, sent, manipulated, used, printed, and deleted just like any computer file.

--Communication: Advantages of digital communication are speed, high fidelity, and reliability. Having a concept map in digital format allows the user to send concept maps as attached files with e-mail messages, or include them in World Wide Web pages. Digitizing enhances the possibilities of using concept maps as communication tools.

--Storage: Computer assisted concept mapping allows for digital storage of concept maps. Digital storage takes less space, makes retrieval easier, and is especially important if concept maps will be used on a large scale.

COMPUTER TOOLS--AN EXAMPLE

Anderson-Inman & Zeitz (1993) describe the classroom use of Inspiration and find that it encourages users to revise or change the maps (compared to maps drawn with paper and pencil). The graphical capabilities of Inspiration help users personalize concept maps. These capabilities also provide an incentive for users to manipulate concepts and revise conceptual relationships.

SUMMARY

REFERENCES

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

Bitner, B. L. (1996). "Interactions between hemisphericity and learning type, and concept mapping attributes of preservice and inservice teachers." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (St. Louis, MO, March 31-April 4, 1996). (ED 400 196)

Botafogo, R. A., Rivlin, E., & Schneiderman, B. (1992). Structural analysis of hypertexts: Identifying hierarchies and useful metrics. "ACM Transactions on Information Systems," 10, 142-180.

Conklin, E. J. (1987). Hypertext: An introduction and survey. "Computer," 20(9), 17-41.

Inspiration Software. (1994). "Inspiration for windows: User's manual [computer program manual]." Portland, OR: Author.

Jonassen, D. H. (1990, July). What are cognitive tools?. In: P.A.M. Kommers, D. H. Jonassen, & J.T. Mayes (Eds.), "Proceedings of the NATA advanced research workshop: Cognitive tools for learning" (pp. 1-6). Enschede, The Netherlands: University of Twente.

Jonassen, D. H., & Grabowski, B. L. (1993). "Handbook of individual differences: Learning & instruction." Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. ISBN: 0-8058-1412-4/0-8058-1413-2.

Jonassen, D. H. (1996). "Computers in the classroom: Mindtools for critical thinking." Eaglewoods, NJ: Merill/Prentice Hall.

Lanzing, J. W. A. (1996, July 4). "Everything you always wanted to know about. concept mapping." Internet WWW page at URL at: (http://utto1031.to.utwente.nl/artikel1/) (version current at March 1997).

Novak, J. D., Gowin, D. B., and Johansen, G. T. (1983). The use of concept mapping and knowledge vee mapping with junior high school science students. "Science Education," 67, 625-645.

Novak, J. D. (1993). How do we learn our lesson?: Taking students through the process. "Science Teacher," 60(3), 50-55.

Ross, B., & Munby, H. (1991). Concept mapping and misconceptions: A study of high-school students' understanding of acids and bases. "International Journal of Science Education," 13(1), 11-24. (EJ 442 063)

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How do you create a mind map?

Mind maps are really quick and easy to create. They have a clear hierarchical format (typically, based on the tree model). In this model, you have a central element that is used as a root and all other objects are connected to this central element via branches.

Mind maps are also very flexible in nature, and there is no single right process for mapping. For this article, we will provide practical tips on how to create a mind map specifically for user behavior (the actions that users might take while interacting with a product). This mind map is built from the perspective of your user, and it can help you understand the common paths that users take in your product and roadblocks they face, as well as aid in prototyping.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to create a mind map specifically for product design.

1. Decide what product state you want to map

Are you mapping a current state (how a product works currently) or the future state (how you want it to work in the future)? Depending on the answer, you will build your map based on the design hypothesis (if you’re mapping the future experience of the product) or user research (if you’re mapping the current experience).

2. List the top-level user tasks

The first thing that you need to do is to list tasks that users can do in your product and prioritize them by importance. The most important tasks (tasks that 99 percent of your users will do) should be at the top of your list, and they are great candidates for mind mapping.

There is a simple technique that can help you to find all possible scenarios of an interaction. Use the, “As a user, I want to [do something]” technique. “Do something” will describe the action, and this action will be a candidate for the nodes of your mind map. But, remember that you need to focus on user needs, not features of your product. For example, your product can provide a feature that says, “Please rate our app,” but as a user, you won’t probably trigger this feature too often.

3. Start with a central topic

A central topic is a central point of the map it's the first thing that you need to define. The central object can be a feature of your product that you want to learn more about, or a specific problem to solve. All other objects will be subtopics of that starting point.

4. Remember that nodes in your mind map can have only one parent

Child-to-parent relationship in a mind map.

The concept of the hierarchical model implies that each node can split off into subnodes, which in turn can split off into further subnodes of their own. While there are no restrictions on how deep the hierarchy of nodes can be, it's vital to remember that one node can have only one parent.

5. Consider both regular and edge cases

To make the map look more real, you need to consider both paths where things go great for your users, and paths when things don’t go as planned. Poorly designed error states typically cause a lot of frustrations and lead to product abandonment. On the other hand, well-designed error states can turn those moments of disappointment into moments of delight. So, it’s vital to consider such routes in your mind map, and be ready to design helpful copy to help users solve the problem.

6. Don’t limit yourself

Don’t judge your ideas while working on a mind map. Whenever you have an idea, simply put it on the map. If you notice that some ideas do not make sense, you can always remove them from the map later on.

7. Highlight important paths

Highlight important paths in your mind map using contrasting colors.

While drawing the map, try to think about what the most important branches are. Highlight them using contrasting colors. This information will help you during the analysis portion of mind mapping.

8. “Read” your mind map

Well-designed maps should remind you of a story. It should be easy for everyone to create a narrative based on the map. At the time when you finish working on the map, test it—do a mental run-through of your map as if you’re trying to use the product. It will help you to understand whether or not the map is readable, and whether you’ve missed anything.


How to make a mind map —

You can create a mind map that’s both easy to understand and nice to look at if you follow a few principles of design, which we’ll explore below.

Looking to save time? You can also find a designer via 99designs to create your mind map for you. Use the tips below to write a brief that will get you what you want.

1. Pick a template

Using a mind map template or mind map maker can be a simple way to get started.

Choose a design based on your mind map’s purpose.

Creating a mind map for social media or a guest blog post? Use a colorful mind map with more decorative details like different shapes and different types of connecting lines.

Meanwhile, if you’re creating a mind map to show brainstorming sessions for SEO topic clusters or internal presentations, go with a design that is plainer with clean lines, simple shapes and neutral color schemes. Like this one:

Use a marketing plan mind map to identify different strategies and ideas for each.

You should also pick your design based on:

A rapidly-scrolling social media user, for example, isn’t going to want to peer at your elaborate mind map! But a team planning a detailed project launch will want that level of detail.

2. Start with your central idea and branch out

If you don’t know where to start, plunk your main idea in the center of the mind map and take it from there.

Perhaps you’re a career coach who wants to create a mind map that engages your audience on social media. Your topic is “time management.” You want to show your followers the different ways you can—you guessed it—manage your time.

Plot your tips for time management around the central idea and then explain these tips using bullet points:

Show thought leadership with a mind map that puts your expertise on display.

The results? A mind map that’s clean and organized. Bullet points help you explain your point without adding in extra nodes that will clutter up the space.

Mind mapping for logo design

Let’s say you want to design a logo for your small business. Hm, where to start? Your logo should make your customers feel a certain way. This is also known as a “brand personality.” A law firm probably wants its logo to say “trustworthy” while a yoga studio would prefer a “calm” vibe.

Here’s how you design your mind map:

  1. Write your business name in the center—this is your central idea.
  2. In the nodes connected to the central idea, write words that explain how you want customers to feel about your business, such as: inspired, safe, accepted etc.
  3. Add bullet points to each node explaining how the logo can achieve each feeling.
    • For example, for “safe” you could write: Use blue color scheme (in color psychology, blue is associated with trustworthiness).
    • For “accepted” you could write: Use illustration that’s inclusive as to gender/race.

This study on logo styles will give you a better idea of what formats and colors of logos consumers trust, by industry.

3. Choose a theme

Mind maps intended for clients or the public may benefit from supporting visuals that help explain your point (and give it that coveted “wow factor”).

Apply stock photography to the background to illustrate an idea, such as a sunrise to symbolize “hope.”

Or use an image as the central node instead of text, such as a lightbulb to symbolize “ideas,” or your company logo in place of your brand’s name.

You can also choose themed icons. For example, the icons in the mind map below mostly symbolize learning and growth:

This detailed mind map uses icons to help illustrate its ideas.

Your mind map’s color scheme should also pay attention to color psychology. Look at the example above again. Blue and purple often represent “competence,” “ambition” and “power”—all traditional qualities of inventors and company founders. Try using colors that consumers trust the most when it comes to your particular industry.

The study also found that respondents found grey and yellow color schemes most trustworthy when it came to the tech industry, for example, but they preferred blue and black for education and blue and gray for law firms.

This is probably because blue is a common brand color of top education companies and law firms.

It’s also because cool colors evoke feelings of trust, loyalty and stability—all qualities consumers favor when it comes to education and law.

4. Use color to organize information

Speaking of color, you can also use color in your mind map to draw the reader’s eye to certain information.

This trick is especially useful when you want your boss or client to focus on a specific point.

In the mind map below, the solid back central node draws the eye to the main concept and differentiates it from the rainbow-hued supporting nodes:

This simple format is perfect if you’re new to mind mapping.

Using different colored supporting ideas makes a mind map easier to scan. It also helps separate the ideas from each other.

You can also color code different categories of ideas to help organize your information. The below mind map uses color to categorize different marketing strategies:

Stay organized with a mind map format that moves left to right.

5. Create a visual hierarchy

A visual hierarchy is a fancy way of saying you can use design elements to stress to the reader what’s the most important information—and what isn’t.

You can do this by using different-sized nodes: larger nodes for important ideas and smaller nodes for less important ideas.

Or use double lines to connect the most important concepts and single lines to connect extra supporting information. Or use squares for key ideas and circles for supporting ideas.

In this example, larger circles signify higher-level ideas:

This mind map could be used to plan the “brand vibe” of a logo.


How do you create a mind map?

Mind maps are really quick and easy to create. They have a clear hierarchical format (typically, based on the tree model). In this model, you have a central element that is used as a root and all other objects are connected to this central element via branches.

Mind maps are also very flexible in nature, and there is no single right process for mapping. For this article, we will provide practical tips on how to create a mind map specifically for user behavior (the actions that users might take while interacting with a product). This mind map is built from the perspective of your user, and it can help you understand the common paths that users take in your product and roadblocks they face, as well as aid in prototyping.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to create a mind map specifically for product design.

1. Decide what product state you want to map

Are you mapping a current state (how a product works currently) or the future state (how you want it to work in the future)? Depending on the answer, you will build your map based on the design hypothesis (if you’re mapping the future experience of the product) or user research (if you’re mapping the current experience).

2. List the top-level user tasks

The first thing that you need to do is to list tasks that users can do in your product and prioritize them by importance. The most important tasks (tasks that 99 percent of your users will do) should be at the top of your list, and they are great candidates for mind mapping.

There is a simple technique that can help you to find all possible scenarios of an interaction. Use the, “As a user, I want to [do something]” technique. “Do something” will describe the action, and this action will be a candidate for the nodes of your mind map. But, remember that you need to focus on user needs, not features of your product. For example, your product can provide a feature that says, “Please rate our app,” but as a user, you won’t probably trigger this feature too often.

3. Start with a central topic

A central topic is a central point of the map it's the first thing that you need to define. The central object can be a feature of your product that you want to learn more about, or a specific problem to solve. All other objects will be subtopics of that starting point.

4. Remember that nodes in your mind map can have only one parent

Child-to-parent relationship in a mind map.

The concept of the hierarchical model implies that each node can split off into subnodes, which in turn can split off into further subnodes of their own. While there are no restrictions on how deep the hierarchy of nodes can be, it's vital to remember that one node can have only one parent.

5. Consider both regular and edge cases

To make the map look more real, you need to consider both paths where things go great for your users, and paths when things don’t go as planned. Poorly designed error states typically cause a lot of frustrations and lead to product abandonment. On the other hand, well-designed error states can turn those moments of disappointment into moments of delight. So, it’s vital to consider such routes in your mind map, and be ready to design helpful copy to help users solve the problem.

6. Don’t limit yourself

Don’t judge your ideas while working on a mind map. Whenever you have an idea, simply put it on the map. If you notice that some ideas do not make sense, you can always remove them from the map later on.

7. Highlight important paths

Highlight important paths in your mind map using contrasting colors.

While drawing the map, try to think about what the most important branches are. Highlight them using contrasting colors. This information will help you during the analysis portion of mind mapping.

8. “Read” your mind map

Well-designed maps should remind you of a story. It should be easy for everyone to create a narrative based on the map. At the time when you finish working on the map, test it—do a mental run-through of your map as if you’re trying to use the product. It will help you to understand whether or not the map is readable, and whether you’ve missed anything.


Business Concept Mapping

A concept model is the business-level definition of a conceptual structure. From concept maps you derive concept models, which are more formal and are used as the starting point for business rules specifications (fact models).

Requirements and business solutions are two sides of the same thing, which is why business analysis is a process that deals with both aspects. That unified process is what we call information-driven business analysis.

Concept Mapping: Intuitive visual communication

The new approach is based on a combination of Design Thinking principles and Concept Mapping. It is business-friendly: intuitive, easy to work with, highly communicative and visual. And it helps business organizations develop creative, valid new ways of looking at the business concepts.

The diagram to the left is a small concept map describing some detailed concepts concerning rental cars.

Concept mapping has proven to be highly successful in business analysis. Conceptual modeling (UML, Entity-Relationship diagrams etc.) failed as a business-side tool, but concept mapping - coming from educational psychology - is readily accepted in the business communities.

Contrary to common wisdom business analysis is not "just a documentation issue". It is a learning process - both for the analyst, but also for the business itself. Concept mapping works in this context because it is based on psychology (the theory of meaningful learning), rather than on an engineering mindset. Which implies that business concept mapping is a business task, as it rightfully should be.


3 Concept mapping in education

Rationales for concept mapping in education are based on several connected ideas:

  1. General writing-to-learn arguments like writing favors making connections, or writing in a different genre favors meta-cognitive activities.
  2. Concept maps can prepare writing, assist in exploration and reading and be used as planning tools. More precisely: concept maps can be used as a creativity / brainstorming tool, as note taking tool, as planning tool for writing (in particular hypertexts) or project (e.g. conjecture map), as tool to express and communicate complex ideas.
  3. Concept maps could an assessment tool for the teacher and/or could be used as teaching materials.

Plotnick (1997) lists five purposes of concept mapping:

  • To generate ideas (brainstorming)
  • To design complex structures (long texts, hypermedia, large web sites)
  • To communicate complex ideas
  • To aid learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge and
  • To assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding.

3.1 Some quotes

(to integrate in some re-writing) “[. ] the primary rationale for concept mapping is that students must establish connections between bits of given information, again in a visible medium. Concept mapping can stimulate students to demonstrate relationships among facts and concepts, demonstrate relationships between lower-order and higher-order concepts, and demonstrate relationships between old and new information within the students' own cognitive structures. It is noteworthy that writing of any kind, not just journaling or concept mapping, makes many of the same demands and that the literature on cohesion in writing (Halliday & Hasan, 1976 Lovejoy & Lance, 1991) complements the literature on concept mapping. Concept maps, then, not only serve the same ends as writing (making connections) but also serve as a valuable means to writing (as a prewriting or planning tool) and as a valuable means for the teacher to assess learning-in-progress.” (Germann & Young-soo, 2001:321).

However, findings reported from these authors who studied whether electronic journaling plus electronic concept mapping lead to heigtheing reflection in science classes for future science teachers, are not overwhelming: “It was hoped that use of electronic journaling and concept mapping would promote sustained reflection (as demonstrated in the quality of revised concept maps and quality of revised drafts of the culminating paper). On the surface we were disappointed. [. ] This lack of demonstrated changed in their concept maps leads us to believe that most students were doing all they could to absorb new ideas and begin to make sense of them. If, however, reflection stems from certain habits of questioning and from heightened skepticism and discrimination of sources of evidence, then most students displayed many behavioral change” . (Germann & Young-soo, 2001: 327).

3.2 Learning theoretical foundations

Novak and Cañas (2006) argue that “learning is mediated heavily by language, and takes place primarily by a reception learning process where new meanings are obtained by asking questions and getting clarification of relationships between old concepts and propositions and new concepts and propositions” and refer to Ausubel's assimilation theory:

“According to Ausubel, learning is based upon the kinds of superordinate, representational, and combinatorial processes that occur during the reception of information. A primary process in learning is subsumption in which new material is related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structure on a substantive, non-verbatim basis” Subsumption Theory (D. Ausubel), retrieved 14:03, 18 August 2007 (MEST). According to this theory, cognitive maps can make excellent advance Organizers.

Ausubel makes a clear distinction between simple rote learning and meaningful learning. We summarize Novak and Cañas (2006) interpretation of Ausubel's theory:

  1. Learning materials must be clear and presented with language and examples that related to learner's prior knowledge.
  2. The learner must possess relevant prior knowledge (this is related to condition 1)
  3. The learner must choose to learn meaningfully, i.e. attempt to incorporate new meanings into their prior knowledge, and as consequence, instructional strategies that emphasize relating new knowledge to prior knowledge foster meaningful learning.

Concept maps can help with 1 for the presentation of information and 3 for both presentation and learning activities where the leaner draws concepts maps. These learner made maps then also can be used as evaluation tools and help to organize remediation activities.

Novak and Cañas (2006) also make the point that cognitive maps can favor integration of concepts and reduce misconceptions and cognitive load. Most importantly they help structuring of information which is crucial for retrieval. “We believe one of the reasons concept mapping is so powerful for the facilitation of meaningful learning is that it serves as a kind of template or scaffold to help to organize knowledge and to structure it, even though the structure must be built up piece by piece with small units of interacting concept and propositional frameworks. Many learners and teachers are surprised to see how this simple tool facilitates meaningful learning and the creation of powerful knowledge frameworks that not only permit utilization of the knowledge in new contexts, but also the retention of the knowledge for long periods of time (Novak, 1990 Novak & Wandersee, 1991).”

3.3 Instructional designs with concept maps

According to Novak and Cañas (2006) concept maps can be used to support many kinds of learning activities, from reading expert maps, to various active learning like data collection, report preparation, oral presentation, group collaboration, and finally, evaluation.

The authors then outline a few recommendations for student activities.

  • A teacher may give focus questions. The phrasing of the question will lead to different outcomes. E.g. asking "what is educational technology" only may not lead to the same result as "why do we need educational technology".
  • Use of a "parking lot". “The staring point for the construction of the concept map can be a list of concepts that the teacher wants to make sure all students include in their map”
  • Expert skeleton maps “have been previously prepared by an expert in the topic, and permits both students and teachers to build their knowledge on a solid foundation. "Expert skeleton" concept maps serve as a guide or scaffold or aid to learning in a way analogous to the use of scaffolding in constructing or refurbishing a building.” Novak and Cañas (2006)

The free IHMC CmapTools support such activities. CmapTools provides a variety of features for a variety of the tasks that students perform (Cañas & Novak, 2005). For example

  • Support of collaboration (shared synchronous or asynchronous editing). In addition, "Discussion threads" and "Annotations" in the form of electronic "Post-It" notes can be used to make anecdotal comments on concept maps or during map construction.
  • Search for information based on a concept map leading to an improved map with linked resources.
  • Record the process of constructing a Cmap for later playback, providing support to the teacher to demonstrate the construction of a concept map.
  • Piece-wise display a concept map and associated resources in full-screen mode for oral presentations
  • Graphically compare two Cmaps, allowing the teacher to compare the student's map to his/hers for an initial evaluation.

The concept map can thus become an artifact around which the various activities of the learning process can be centered.

Concept maps as advance organizers

“Ausubel suggests that advance organizers might foster meaningful learning by prompting the student regarding pre-existing superordinate concepts that are already in the student's cognitive structure, and by otherwise providing a context of general concepts into which the student can incorporate progressively differentiated details. Ausubel claims that by presenting a global representation of the knowledge to be learned, advance organizers might foster "integrative reconciliation" of the subdomains of knowledge - the ability to understand interconnections among the basic concepts in the domain.” (Ausubel's Advance Organizers, retrieved 19:35, 2 October 2006 (MEST))

Cognitive maps as concept maps

Läge et al. (2008) suggest a strategy to support assimilative learning. Assimilative (as opposed to accomodation) is understood as integrating new information into existing knowledge or cognitive structures without restructuring the current schema. A stable and most notably a correct memory representation which "spans" the knowledge space is essential. Building elaborately a basic structure as well as the assimilative integration of new information can be eased with the aid of cognitive maps. The authors propose a “general model of a "cognitive map" which is based on geographical representations.In such a cognitive map, a distance measure between the concepts is used to represent the general similarity which an individual sees between each object of a knowledge field.” (Läge, 2008:30). Such maps can be generated with statistical techniques like multidimensional scaling from a matrix of paired similarity judgements for a set of objects.

These maps could be used in the following way. Students are given a map containing a number of concepts (e.g. 20) where the similarities (and therefore the distance) have been defined by experts. Learners then will have to state similarities between new concepts and existing ones. From this a learner's map will be generated. The learner's map then can be compared to the expert's map. “If the structure of a learner-map differs eminently from the expert-map, the person has to be instructed to re-learn the fundamental criteria of the knowledge field in a first step. As soon as the positions of the majority of objects correspond to those of the experts [. ], the correctly placed objects can be used for an assimilative process for learning the incorrectly represented objects: Exercises are presented which specifically focus on a feature comparison by using one correctly placed (well known) object as an anchor for learning the features of the incorrectly represented object. Similarities and differences are specifically presented so that the person learns to better integrate the target object into the existing structure.” (Läge, 2008:32)

Particular kinds of visual maps and languages exist for many purposes. E.g.

3.4 Assessing students schemata about concept maps

Klein (1998:32) describes a schema questionnaire. It “was used to elicit information regarding students' existing schemata about concept mapping. The questionnaire included three questions to assess schemata directly (What is a concept map? How do you make a concept map? What can you use a concept map for?) and 18 questions that sought to get at the level of abstractness of studentsÕ schemata indirectly (9 ratings of the usefulness of concept mapping in various situations, and 9 ratings of the goodness of different concept maps).”


The Interface Conditions

Two developmental psychology experts modified the information contained in a general psychology text to aid in the construction of the concept map-based and web page-based interfaces. The chapter on human development came from the text used by those members of the three classes who volunteered to participate in the experiment. The development chapter was not required reading for the course. The concept maps and web pages were built from the definition lists at the end of the chapter, from the chapter outline and headings, and from the chapter itself.

Concept Map-based Browser

As mentioned earlier, the concept map-based browser was constructed using the software package CMapTools developed at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. In the current experiment, the concept map-based organization of the information consisted of three hierarchical levels of concept maps. Figure 2 shows the first level or "Overview" map, which provides links to the maps on developmental time periods, including prenatal, infancy and childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Figure 2: Top Level Concept Map: Overview of Development


Level Two contained the developmental time periods per se (Figure 3). The individual concept maps covering physical, social-emotional, cognitive, and moral development in infancy and childhood were the Level Three concept maps (see Figure 4). Moral development was also covered in a Level Three concept map for Adolescence and Adulthood. Within the concept maps, information was arranged in a hierarchical manner, with higher level or more inclusive concepts occurring higher on the screen than lower level or more specific concepts.

Figure 3: Level Two Concept Map: One of the Developmental Time Periods

Figure 4: Level Three Concept Map: Cognitive Development in Infancy and Childhood

Web page-based Browser

Web pages were created using Adobe Pagemill ™ to cover the same material in the concept map-based interface, both of which paralleled the information contained in the textbook chapter. Figure 5 shows the top level web page that corresponds to the concept map presented in Figure 2. Wording in both the concept map-based and web page-based interfaces was made as similar as possible without violating normal sentence structure and related content of the web pages. Accessing resources in the concept map-based interface required more time than loading pages in the web page interface (due to the early version of the CMapTools software used). Loading time was equated by using software that added a delay to web pages.


Figure 5: Top Level Web Page


Studying and Constructing Concept Maps: a Meta-Analysis

A concept map is a node-link diagram in which each node represents a concept and each link identifies the relationship between the two concepts it connects. We investigated how using concept maps influences learning by synthesizing the results of 142 independent effect sizes (n = 11,814). A random-effects model meta-analysis revealed that learning with concept and knowledge maps produced a moderate, statistically significant effect (g = 0.58, p < 0.001). A moderator analysis revealed that creating concept maps (g = 0.72, p < 0.001) was associated with greater benefit relative to respective comparison conditions than studying concept maps (g = 0.43, p < 0.001). Additional moderator analyses indicated learning with concept maps was superior to other instructional comparison conditions, and was effective across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and non-STEM knowledge domains. Further moderator analyses, as well as implications for theory and practice, are provided.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


Free Concept Map Templates

Concept maps were an innovative learning tool created in 1984 by Gowin and Novak. It is a visual aid that will help you list down ideas, connect them and depict them in a hierarchical structure. You can use a concept map to understand a topic or show the flow of events or ideas.

Types of Concept Map

Let’s have a look at the four main types of concept maps:

Hierarchical Map: This is a chronological type of map that lists the general information on the top and gets more specific as it moves downwards. The map can be sequenced according to the time those particular events happened or even their importance.

System Map: The system map is the most complicated one of the bunch because of how detailed it is. It maps all the possible information and their relationships, which requires a lot of analytical skills.

Flow Chart Map: The flow chart map is the most linear concept map with everything organized and arranged logically.

Spider Map: Spider map is usually used when there is a central theme, and all the data revolves around it. The main point is at the center, and you keep on adding ideas around it. This is one of the most straightforward maps to construct and read.

These are some types of concept maps that you can use. However, you need to select the type according to the question or the topic you are addressing.

Part 2: Free Concept Map Templates

Rather than starting from scratch every time, you need a concept map template. EdrawMax Template Gallery contains an array of creative templates (made by Edraw users) that you will find for any occasion you need. Let’s have a look at some of them.

1. Blank Concept Map Template

A blank concept map will help you structure and create a relationship between ideas. You have more liberty to create a concept map as you want, add colors, and structure it. In the workspace, you can add shapes and background images to create a more attractive map.

2. Nursing Concept Map Template

The nursing concept map is primarily used to illustrate a patient’s condition and nurses’ reaction to that. It can be used in nursing education too for explaining essential concepts. If you are a nurse, it is also useful in keeping track of important information regarding patients’ data or any information you are still trying to learn.

3. Science Concept Map Template

This concept map is excellent for delivering any complex scientific ideas and relationships. You can easily modify it to adjust to different topics like organ systems, food chains, evolution, and explain history related to important discoveries. By making a concept map, it will be easier to understand how two processes link.

4. Global Warming Concept Map Template

While teaching students or people how lethal global warming is, a concept map will be quite handy. You can link different consequences of global warming, its causes, and prevention in an organized and more understandable way. With a visual aid, you will find it easier to explain the cause.

5. Brand Concept Map Template

For an organization to be strong, all the employees need to be on the same page regarding the brand and brand image. A concept map is a great way to explain that. You can edit the pre-existing brand concept map template by adding your company colors and logo for a better visual understanding.

6. Nervous System Concept Map Template

The nervous system can be quite a tricky subject to understand, considering how reflex actions are created and impulses are generated with each stimulus. All of this can be far easily understood when using a concept map. With the help of arrows, shapes, and background images, the whole process will look far less daunting.

7. Macromolecules Concept Map Template

For chemistry teachers, who find it very hard to explain complex topics, a concept map can be a great idea. Using this macromolecules concept map template, you can efficiently explain the process, its uses, and the monomers and develop the students’ interest in even the most boring topics.

8. Time Management Concept Map Template

The time management concept map is an innovative way to organize your daily tasks in a journal. You can list all the essential tasks on the top or categorize them according to work or personal. You can make one for a whole week or even one for each day. This way, to will remember to complete all the critical tasks.

9. Project Management Concept Map Template

Project management can be quite hectic, and an excellent way to organize the scope and budget is by using a concept map. This concept map will help you create all the tasks, assign responsibilities or create a rough idea and estimate for the clients. Concept maps will ensure everyone is on the same page making communication easier.

10. Business Real Estate Concept Map Template

Real Estate Concept Maps can be quite useful in discussing multiple real estate types and their pros and cons. This will help clients to make informed decisions. With a Real Estate Concept Map template, you just have to fill in the information. You can design it with whatever theme you want, and it will be done in no time.

11. Health Concept Map Template

A health concept map can be quite handy for a doctor to explain diseases to certain patients. They can be useful in keeping patient histories and the medicines they have taken before. Using the concept can help doctors and nurses ensure the patients are getting what they require.

12. Bubble Concept Map Template

While using EdrawMax, you are not limited to a single set of shapes. You can use rectangles, diamonds, triangles, circles, etc. A bubble map essentially uses circles to identify relationships between different items. You can link ideas, create hierarchies or just show a process flow.

13. Energy Concept Map Template

Learning all about energy can be fun using this concept map. You can learn about different forms of energy and how one energy is converted into the other. The concept map will ensure that you understand the law of conservation of energy and examples of how we use energy every day.

14. Creative Concept Map Template

Creative people are often bombarded with ideas that are hard to keep track of them. In that case, using a concept map will help list ideas and link them to create a whole story. A concept map will help write stories, track characters, background, and relationships with other characters.

15. Climate Change Concept Map Template

Climate change has become one of the most critical issues of the 21st century. A concept map might help those who still don’t understand the gravity of the issue. By listing its consequences and causes, people may able to understand how they are affecting their surroundings.

16. Cell Cycle Concept Map Template

One of the essential topics of biology includes the cell cycle. It can be an ordeal trying to remember all the phases and all the changes that take place. To remember it all, you can use a concept map listing down the differences in each stage.

17. Pneumonia Concept Map Template

Another great use of a concept map is to list all the relevant details regarding a particular disease or disorder. You can keep track of any symptoms, causes, and remedies. People who are studying medicine can use this to learn all the information. Those who have a sick relative will find all the well organized information handy.

18. Chemistry Concept Map Template

Chemistry is made easy with this Chemistry Concept Map Template. Teachers can use this one to quickly create a lesson plan that is both visually appealing and interesting. For concepts like atoms and the periodic table, this map will help identify elements, where elements are found, their compounds that will enhance students’ learning ability.

19. Math Concept Map Template

Math is one of the more challenging subjects to understand. Difficult topics will be made easy using concept maps. This map can explain definitions show solved problems, any related equations, and any terminologies. Using a visual aid will allow students to understand concepts and link ideas better.

20. Influence of Media Concept Map Template

Here is a concept map about the influence of media from 4 different perspectives. It emphasizes the importance of media and the vital role of it. Media influence is the actual force exerted by a media message, resulting in either a change or reinforcement in audience or individual beliefs.

Part 3: When to Use a Concept Map

Teaching New Concepts

You will find that mind maps are a very effective way to introduce students or fellow peers to a new topic. The visual aid will help process ideas and make connections, and you move forward with the topic. Hierarchical concept maps will be useful here to ensure students can grasp the essential ideas and points and then organize them.

The business will find it advantageous to use concept maps to demonstrate user perspective. It can be used to show customer journeys and make efficient business plans.

Understand Relations between Concepts

Concept maps are vital as they show relationships between ideas. As an essential visual aid, they will help identify and remember how one concept branches out and what thoughts are connected.

Part 4: How to Create a Concept Map

Now to the real question: How to create a concept map easily? EdrawMax is one of the top-selling software to help you create a concept map in a few simple steps

Step 1: 1. Open EdrawMax and click on [New] menu. Navigate to [Mind Map] in the left pane and select [Concept Map]. Then click on [Plus] button.

Step 2: You will be directed to the workspace. On the left side, there are shapes that you can use to create a concept map. Use the right pane to edit the shapes and personalize them.

Step 3: Choose your topic and drag & drop it on the canvas, which will be your map’s main and starting point.

Step 4: Draw more shapes, add-in ideas, and connect them to the main topic. Add any background shapes to make your chart more colorful and attractive.

Step 5: Establish the hierarchy for your map to make sure the more important concepts are on the top. Recheck and fill in any gaps of information you might have missed out.

Step 6: You can share the map with colleagues or invite team members to collaborate on the map collectively.

Part 5: How to Add a Concept Map in Word/PDF/PowerPoint

It can be a nightmare adding visuals into Word that are outside the basic SmartArt function. A better way to do it is using EdrawMax and then exporting your drawings to editable word files. If you want to insert a concept map in Word/Excel/PowerPoint, follow the simple steps below and make a quick and easy map.

Step 1: Once you have created your concept map, click on [File] tab.

Step 2: Select [Export & Send] from the left pane and select [Office] and click on [Word].

Step 3: In the dialogue box, name your file and click [Save]. Your diagram will be saved as a word file. You can try to export your concept map as a PDF document, PowerPoint or Excel file in the same method.

Part 6: Conclusion

Concept maps are a very efficient way to teach a new concept to pitch an idea. They will help you to understand better, clarify your thoughts and connect ideas. EdrawMax is one great tool to draw quick concept maps that are professional and easy to make. Give it a try, and all other diagram tools will pale in comparison.

See More Pre-Made Concept Map Templates by Edraw


Introduction

Research has found that summarising an information source is an effective strategy for obtaining cognitive and metacognitive learning outcomes (Anderson & Thiede, 2008, Gajria et al., 2007). For example, in an experiment in which university students studied a 2800-word text passage and took a post-test, those instructed to write a prose summary outperformed those who did not write a summary, even though total learning time was the same (Foos, 1995). Concept maps, which are diagrams showing networks of concept nodes connected by relational links, are an alternative medium for summarising information. During a Finnish medical school entrance examination in which students were required to write essays using 17 pages of source information, 32 of the 502 applicants spontaneously constructed concept maps on scratch paper that was provided (Slotte & Lonka, 1999). The concept maps mostly summarised the source information rather than expressed new ideas. Slotte and Lonka found that students' success on the examination was related to the complexity of their concept maps, and that students who chose to draw concept maps or write prose summaries were more likely to succeed on the test than those who made verbatim notes or wrote nothing on the scratch paper.

Summarisation research has been largely restricted to individual learning, with little investigation of the processes and effects of collaborative summarisation. The research reported in this article compared collaborative writing to collaborative concept mapping and investigated the role of cognitive ability and ability grouping in moderating the learning outcomes of these summarisation strategies.

A summary of an expository text is a representation that preserves the gist or essential meaning of the original. In terms of van Dijk and Kintsch's (1983) text processing theory, a summary expresses the semantic macrostructure that is inferred by capable readers as they read the source text (Friend, 2001). According to van Dijk and Kintsch's theory, by analysing sentences into propositions and deleting, linking, generalising and inferring propositions, readers construct a hierarchy of propositions that encompasses a detailed microstructural model of the source text and a condensed macrostructural model derived from it. In constructing higher level propositions readers are enabled by their cognitive abilities and guided by their prior knowledge of content and genre schemas.

In the research reported here, a summary was either expressed as prose written in the learners' own words or as a concept map. Prose essays and lists are probably the most common summarisation formats used in education. An experienced biology teacher we interviewed, who has served as a mentor for teacher education in the area of Germany in which our research was conducted, reported that having students write summaries in an essay format is a common teaching practice and is seen by biology teachers as a legitimate instructional method. Unlike concept maps, the sequential structure of prose often represents any multiple relational connections for a concept by repeating the concept at places in the text where related concepts occur (Taber, 1994). Consequently, the importance and relational centrality of a concept in a prose summary is signalled by the number of times it is repeated (Friend, 2001). Concept maps use considerably less text than prose formats to present the same information. They represent each proposition as a node-link-node structure in which the link is labelled to indicate the relationship between the concepts (Novak & Gowin, 1984). Concept maps can display many relationships involving a single concept without re-writing the concept name (Chmielewski & Dansereau, 1998, Toth et al., 2002), allowing the relational centrality of a concept to be signalled by the number of links that connect to it. Because concept maps are less amenable to verbatim reproduction of source texts than prose summaries, they have been recognised as a suitable medium for summarising text passages (Cañas et al., 2003, Kinchin, 2000).

Theorists have proposed several reasons why working with concept maps may enhance learning. Compared to text formats, they may allow the learner to perform more semantic processing in visuospatial working memory and avoid overloading verbal working memory (Winn, 1991). Unlike natural language, concept maps are restricted to a simple, non-recursive syntax in which propositions are represented by regular subject-verb-object structures. The simpler syntax of concept maps may make them easier to read for learners who have low verbal ability or are less adept in the language of instruction (Oɽonnell, Dansereau, & Hall, 2002). Concept mapping, which is the construction of concept maps, requires fewer grammatical decisions than writing prose and, consequently, may allow more cognitive resources to be allocated directly to the learning goals. The visuospatial characteristics of concept maps, especially the placement and linking of nodes, may signal hierarchical relationships and similarity relationships among concepts in a way that can be more immediately perceived.

Hundreds of primary studies and two meta-analyses have investigated the instructional use of concept maps (Horton et al., 1993, Nesbit & Adesope, 2006). The research has found that both constructing and studying concept maps are beneficial learning activities, even for long-term retention (Haugwitz & Sandmann, 2009a). However, several important caveats have emerged. First, some of the largest reported effect sizes favouring concept mapping can be attributed to the use of comparison treatments, such as lectures, for which the level of learner engagement was not assessed and might be presumed to be low. In the handful of studies that compared concept mapping with activities that presented similar levels of learner engagement, such as writing prose summaries, the instructional advantages of concept mapping were found to be slight (Nesbit & Adesope, 2006). Second, there is evidence from a few studies suggesting that the advantages of using concept maps may accrue only to students having lower verbal ability. Third, there is insufficient research on collaborative concept mapping. Partly this problem is due to a failure by researchers to distinguish in their reporting between group learning (e.g., the teacher presents information to a class and asks each student to individually summarise it in a concept map) and collaborative learning (e.g., the teacher gives information to a small group of students and asks them to summarise it in a single concept map through a communicative process that engages every group member). Fourth, as noted by Bunnting, Coll, and Campbell (2006), the duration of concept mapping interventions in biology education, the domain of the research reported in this article, has tended to be too brief to allow generalisation to applications of concept mapping in real classroom settings.

Learners' cognitive abilities may affect the relative benefit they obtain from writing and concept mapping. Aggregating over two experiments that compared studying expository text to studying pre-constructed concept maps, Nesbit and Adesope (2006) found that participants with low verbal ability learned more under the concept map conditions than the expository text conditions (d = 0.44, p < .05) and those with high verbal ability learned more under the expository text conditions (d = − 0.33) although the latter difference was not statistically detected. In research with high school biology students, Schmid and Telaro (1990) investigated the interaction between the instructional use of concept mapping (compared to a traditional teaching method consisting mainly of lectures) and reading ability. They found that students who had low reading ability performed better under the concept mapping condition and students who had high reading ability showed no effect of treatment. These results led them to conclude that “concept mapping is effective when it counts most” (p. 84). A possible explanation for this pattern is that concept mapping cues low-ability students to perform like high-ability students, that is, to process incoming information in an organised and ordered manner (Cañas et al., 2003).

We speculate that for students having lower cognitive ability the simpler and more visually salient node–link–node syntax of concept maps makes the propositional knowledge they represent more accessible than the context-embedded propositions in expository prose. Research comparing writing and concept mapping as learning strategies has ignored the role of cognitive ability as a potential moderating variable. In an investigation of the cognitive factors underlying the concept mapping of 38 university students, Hilbert and Renkl (2008) were unable to statistically detect correlations between the participants' cognitive ability and the characteristics of the maps (number of nodes, links and cross-links) they constructed. Although learners with higher cognitive abilities probably do tend to produce concept map summaries with more nodes and links, they may have an even greater advantage when writing prose summaries. We hypothesise that concept mapping offers greater relative advantage as a summarisation strategy to learners with low cognitive abilities because it provides the visual cues they need to be aware that a proposition is present or absent, complete or incomplete. For example, if they see they have constructed two concept nodes but no link, they may be prompted to consider the relationship between the concepts if they see they have made a link that is not labelled, they may be prompted to consider the nature of the relationship between the concepts. We further speculate that the advantages concept maps offer learners with lower cognitive abilities may be amplified when the maps are used to communicate ideas in a collaborative setting.

Collaborative and cooperative learning occur when learners interact to construct individual and shared knowledge (Ciani et al., 2008, Dillenbourg, 1999). From a pedagogical perspective, collaborative learning is fostered by tasking a small group of students with closed- or open-ended problems. Students address these within the group by offering and receiving assistance and explaining their understanding of the available information and its implications (Gillies, 2003). It has been theorised that learning outcomes are enhanced when cooperative tasks are structured so that learners perceive their personal success to depend on the success of the group (Slavin, 1996) and the task requires them to verbalise their understanding to others in the group (Lemke, 1990). In a recent meta-analysis of teaching strategies in science education (Schroeder, Scott, Tolson, Huang, & Lee, 2007), a comparison of collaborative learning with teacher-centred strategies found a weighted mean effect size of 0.95 standard deviations in favour of collaborative learning.

Group composition and the process of group formation may have complex effects on the success of collaborative learning. When interpreting the effects of cognitive abilities in collaborative learning groups, one needs to consider the composition of the groups, particularly the group size and whether ability is homogeneously or heterogeneously distributed. Low-ability students may be able to learn more when placed in small groups or dyads with at least one high-ability student who can mentor other students or take on cognitively demanding aspects of the task that are necessary but extrinsic to the learning goals. Low-ability students in homogeneous groups may collectively lack the knowledge needed to explain relevant information and provide crucial types of mutual assistance (Dillenbourg et al., 1996, Lou et al., 1996). Yet even if teachers had complete knowledge of group composition effects, it is not certain that they should use that knowledge to form students into theoretically optimal groups. According to Deci and Ryan's self determination theory, allowing students to exercise choice and showing them they are understood and trusted to make choices (autonomy support) enhances their intrinsic motivation to participate in learning activities (Grolnick, Ryan, & Deci, 1991). Ciani et al. (2008) investigated the effects of student choice in group formation. Learners who were allowed to choose their groups reported greater sense of intrinsic motivation, classroom community, and autonomy support than learners assigned to their groups by teachers.

The separately demonstrated benefits of concept mapping and collaborative learning suggest that combining these two instructional methods may be an especially effective way to enhance knowledge construction (Cañas et al., 2003, Stoyanova & Kommers, 2002). Researchers in science education have found that collaborative concept mapping is an effective learning strategy that compares favourably with activities such as listening to lectures (Czerniak & Haney, 1998, Esiobu & Soyibo, 1995) and reading text (Amer, 1994). While collaboratively constructing a concept map, students must discuss concept arrangements and their interconnected relationships (Van Boxtel, van der Linden, Roelofs, & Erkens, 2002) which is a process that likely focuses attention on divergent interpretations and resolves them. Roth and Roychoudhury (1993, p. 505) suggest that concept maps “may provide an ideal context for overt negotiation of meaning and construction of knowledge because they require individuals to externalise their propositional frameworks . particularly when students collaboratively construct these maps”.

Research by Okebukola and Jegede (1988) found that biology students who created concept maps collaboratively learned more than those who constructed concept maps individually. In experiments comparing the use of text and concept maps as information resources in collaborative learning, students using concept map resources learned more than those using text resources (Patterson, Dansereau, & Newbern, 1992) and students with lower verbal ability benefited more from the use of concept map resources than students with higher verbal ability (Patterson et al., 1993, Rewey et al., 1992). It has been proposed that using concept maps does not help high-ability students because the map characteristics conflict with the strategies they usually employ or because they have already reached their functional ceiling (Patterson et al., 1993). The only prior research that compared the achievement outcomes of concept map construction and writing as collaborative learning activities was conducted with German secondary students studying chemistry (Fechner, 2009). It found no statistically significant difference in achievement between collaborative concept mapping and collaborative writing.

The study of collaborative learning is a complex enterprise potentially involving a host of theories, variables and levels of analysis (Dillenbourg et al., 1996). We chose to examine effects of three factors, namely summarisation strategy (concept mapping vs. writing), individual cognitive ability, and group ability context, on the quality of group summaries and achievement test performance. We define the group ability context for each student as the highest ability held by another student within the same group. The simpler syntax and more visually salient meaning of concept maps may allow students with low cognitive abilities to perform more easily the peer-teaching roles that are available to them in a homogeneous group. Peer-teaching performance is likely a crucial determinant of successful collaborative learning, amplifying the learning outcomes for mentors and mentees within the group. For low-ability students placed in groups with students having high cognitive abilities, concept mapping is not as crucial because they are less likely to mentor other students and more likely to be mentored by high-ability students who are better able to explain relations between concepts without reference to a concept map.

The aim of this research was to investigate the moderating role of cognitive ability and group ability context in the causal relationship between collaborative summarisation strategies (prose writing vs. concept mapping) and achievement. Four hypotheses were posed. The first two hypotheses focus on the quality of the summaries (concept maps or essays) produced by the learning groups and the relationship of summary quality to achievement where quality is defined as the number of correct relations between concepts.

Collaboratively generated concept map summaries contain more correct relations than collaboratively written essay summaries.

The number of correct relations in summaries predicts achievement outcomes at the learning group level.

The last two hypotheses refer to the effects of learning strategy (concept mapping or essay writing) on achievement and its interaction with ability factors. As prior research suggests that the use of concept maps may make little or no difference to high-ability learners, for the last hypothesis we focused attention on the collaborative environment of students with lower cognitive ability.

Students learn more from constructing concept map summaries than writing prose summaries, and those having low cognitive ability obtain greater learning benefit from concept mapping than those having high cognitive ability.

For students with low cognitive ability, group composition (high or low group ability context) interacts with summarisation strategy such that those placed in homogeneous low-ability groups obtain greater benefit from concept mapping than those placed in groups with high-ability students.


What’s in a name? Cognitive Mapping, Mind Mapping, Concept Mapping.

When Banxia® first started to introduce Decision Explorer® to a wider audience (including qualitative data researchers) we promoted it as tool to be used anywhere! Let me explain why- that was the feedback that we were getting from existing users. Decision Explorer® was being used for a diverse range of applications. We heard about applications ranging from “doodling” with ideas to help explore personal issues, to developing corporate strategy from personnel development planning to outlining the plot of a novel from risk analysis to exploring organizational learning, and a whole stack of applications in between. A wide range, as you can see. But presenting people with a “blank piece of paper” and leaving it up to their imagination, isn’t the easiest way to engage peoples’ interest!

What is Decision Explorer®?

Decision Explorer® is an ideas mapping tool (a “map” being a network of ideas and their associated links). It can be described as a qualitative data management and analysis tool (albeit not in the “code and retrieve” mold), in that it deals solely with qualitative data (ideas). It is also a “visual thinking” tool. Its purpose is to help you play with ideas, to structure them and explore the relationships between them and, in so doing, to move your thinking forward. The software is used to generate a visual representation of your, your interviewee’s or a group’s ideas about a particular issue. It gives you a means of capturing and structuring ideas. Decision Explorer® was developed initially as a tool to support a particular kind of cognitive mapping (Eden 1988, 1998, Ackermann et al. 1992), the underlying concepts of which were adapted from Kelly’s (1955) work on personal construct theory. Its development was in the field of strategic management and, although its uses have spread more widely, at present strategic management remains the most widely written about area of application.

With Decision Explorer® you capture ideas as short phrases of text and link them appropriately to express their relationship to one another. In cognitive mapping the most commonly used form of link represents a causal (“may lead to”) relationship, but you can use a variety of user defined link types to express visually other forms of relationship. Decision Explorer® is, in many ways, a “neutral” tool, in that it is your ideas and the structure that you develop which convey your (individual, group’s or research subject’s) understanding of a situation. You do not have to work with a central idea, from which all others stem (unless you want to). Nor do you have to use any particular structure of linking (such as imposed by a tree structure or “fish bone” diagram), again, unless you want to. With Decision Explorer® you are building up a database of relationships and then using the tools at your disposal to explore the model that you have built, elaborating it and developing your thinking about the problem or issue under consideration.

Visual thinking tools focus on two things, making ideas explicit (and therefore shareable) and exploring the relationships between ideas. Not everybody takes easily to working with maps of ideas but, like many techniques, once you get the hang of it it becomes second nature. I am sure that you are aware of the old adage that “a picture paints a thousand words”, and that is very much where Decision Explorer® is coming from. It helps you develop a graphical representation of peoples’ thoughts and the relationships between them, encouraging reflection, making ideas explicit and shareable.

Cognitive maps, mind maps and concept maps.

Working for Banxia® I am often asked what the difference is between cognitive mapping (Eden 1988, 1998, Ackermann et al. 1992), mind mapping (Buzan 1993) and concept mapping (Novak 1984, 1993). Decision Explorer® was designed, primarily, to support cognitive mapping and so certain analysis and navigation tools work best when the cognitive mapping discipline is followed. At first glance cognitive mapping (as implemented in Decision Explorer®) appears to be similar to Buzan’s mind-mapping technique and Novak’s concept mapping, but while there are similarities, the three techniques differ in some fundamental ways. One of the differences between concept and cognitive maps and mind maps is that a mind map 1 has only one main or central concept, whereas concept and cognitive maps may have several focuses. The mind map structure is “tree like” – branching out from the central idea – while concept and cognitive maps are generally complex networks. A mind map consists of a central word or concept (but preferably a picture), around which ideas that relate to that image are drawn. You start in the center of the page, with the main idea, and work outward in all directions, producing a growing and organized structure composed of key words and images. The images are an aid to memory and, as illustrated in Buzan’s book “The Mind Map Book”, these hand drawn images can be quite spectacular! “The full power of the Mind Map is realized by having a central image instead of a central word, and by using images where ever appropriate” (Buzan 1993).

Example of a Mind Map – Click on the thumbnail below to view full image

Another difference between the methods is that cognitive mapping is a causal based mapping technique. In a mind map links are usually “passive”, not representing anything more than association. In concept maps the links are labeled with descriptions, defining the association between concepts. The ideas in mind maps and concepts maps are often single words, which in the case of mind maps, are usually chosen to improve retention in one’s memory. The illustration above shows a mind map developed and presented using Decision Explorer®. The limitation here is that Decision Explorer® is not (and was not intended as) a graphics package, so the sort of illustrations that Buzan suggests are not possible with Decision Explorer®.

Three illustrations are given in this article, so that you can contrast the three different forms of mapping. The mind map (shown above) is the start of a reflection on relocating a small business. The concept map, shown below, deals with a research project and some of the issues that surround its successful execution. The cognitive map, which is shown towards the end of this article, was developed with the marketing department of a company, looking at ways of improving service levels within their organization. What is shown is only a part of a larger map.

In the 1960s, Joseph D. Novak, at Cornell University, began to study the concept mapping technique. His work drew on the theories of David Ausubel (1968) who stressed the importance of prior knowledge in being able to learn about new concepts. In a concept map the nodes are labeled with descriptive text – a word or short phrase representing the concept, and the links are labeled (sometimes only implicitly) to express a relationship type. Both concept and cognitive maps allow you to see the connections between ideas you already have to connect new ideas and to organize ideas in a logical but flexible structure.

Example of a Concept Map – Click on the thumbnail below to view full image

As mentioned previously, cognitive mapping (following Eden and Ackermanns’ approach) is based on Personal Construct Theory (Kelly 1955). Ideas are referred to as “concepts”. These are short phrases expressing an idea, single words are not used and the aim is, where appropriate, to incorporate an active verb into the idea to give a sense of action and direction. Ideas (concepts) may be mono- or bi-polar. Bi-polar concepts are important because they add richness to the ideas in the map, capturing the “shades of grey” and nuances in peoples’ thinking. The concept “long queues at X-ray rather than 3 minutes or less” is an example of a bi-polar concept. This person might have expressed a different idea, such as “long queues at X-ray rather than no check at all”. Both statements give us more insight into this person’s preferences. “Long queues at X-ray” is the emergent pole of the concept and the statement after “rather than” is called the “contrast” or “opposite pole”. In Decision Explorer® the “rather than” phrase is represented by three dots (.), an ellipsis.

Cognitive mapping encourages you to look for a “hierarchy” in the ideas that you are mapping. The hierarchy is one of cause and effect, means/ ends, how/ why, working towards identifying desired and (as a consequence undesirable) outcomes. The terminology used to refer to the outcomes depends on the setting in which the technique is being used. They might be referred to as goals/ not goals, aspirations/ fears and so on. Most links are directional, representing causal relationships and are read as “may lead to”. Negative links can be used. These switch the relationship between the concepts, so that the emergent pole of the tail concept (the concept at the start of the link) relates to the contrasting (or opposite) pole of the head concept (the concept at the arrowhead of the link). Concept reference number can be turned off, as can the “hidden link” display. Hidden links show links to other concepts, not shown on the current display.

Example of a Cognitive Map – Click on the thumbnail below to view full image

In cognitive mapping, as with the other forms of mapping, the full meaning of the ideas is given by the “whole picture”. Links between ideas add further contextual information to the concepts themselves, and there is meaning through the content of the ideas – the way in which they are expressed as short phrases – and through the context within which they sit. In cognitive mapping you are not limited in the number of ideas that you can link to one another. While concept mapping “allows” multiple links between ideas, mind mapping typically does not use multiple links between ideas. In cognitive mapping multiple links between ideas are not at all unusual and in Decision Explorer® there is no limitation on the number of links between concepts.

If you use the cognitive mapping technique, then you are also building a map that is amenable to further analysis. Decision Explorer® provides analysis facilities to help identify concepts that have particular significance, for example concepts with a high number of surrounding links (“ins”, “outs” or both). Cluster Analysis is used to identify groups of concepts that are tightly linked together, which typically cover a particular area of the issue being mapped. You can display each cluster individually (if you wish), print them out for feedback or use them as a focus for discussion. The software allows you to obtain reports of complete chains of argument in the map, from “triggering event” to outcome. The collapse tool allows you to “hide” detail, and just see an overview of the map or any part of it. This is another tool to help you manage complexity and something that simple mapping software does not have. The benefits of the analysis functions are important – without them it is hard to efficiently manage and draw conclusions from large, complex maps. There are over 40 analysis commands in Decision Explorer®, which help you to navigate and explore your data.

What people say about Decision Explorer®

Decision Explorer® has been reviewed in a number of places over the years, the most recent independent review being in the October 1999 issue of the American journal “OR/MS Today”.

“. the cognitive mapping technique, implemented in Decision Explorer®, would make a useful addition to any OR/MS toolkit”. OR/MS Today, October 1999. OR/MS Today is the journal of the American Institute for Operational Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) .

“Mapping gives you a good non-linear, inter-linked summary of what the themes in an interview are. I need to see what I don’t have, to contrast different peoples’ views of what is real”. Seonaidh McDonald, Lecturer, Sheffield School of Management.

“[Decision Explorer®’s] development in a business research environment has certainly lifted it above other mind-mapping programs in terms of detail, and means that the program supports and understands a much wider range of link and concept types”. PC Direct, December 1994

Conclusions

The cognitive mapping technique is not directly comparable to mind mapping or concept mapping. The technique was designed primarily for issue/ problem structuring, in the context of action orientated strategic management interventions. To the qualitative researcher, cognitive mapping and Decision Explorer® offer an alternative means of gathering and structuring data, as well as a means of structuring thinking about research issues, for example in project planning at the outset of a research study. Cognitive mapping can be used to capture the research subjects’ rather than the researchers’ perceptions of the relationships between ideas (instead of the researcher inferring these relationships). The technique and the tool (Decision Explorer®) can be used with individuals and when working with groups. Although it was designed, initially, to support a particular form of mapping (cognitive mapping), there are many different ways in which Decision Explorer® can be used. It is also programmable and has dynamic data exchange (DDE) capabilities, so it can exchange information with other programs.

Ackermann, F., Eden, C., Cropper, S,. (1992) “Getting started with cognitive mapping”. Tutorial paper, 7th Young OR Conference. (Available from Banxia Software Ltd.)

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

Buzan, T. (1993) The Mind Map Book. London: BBC Books

Eden, C. (1988) “Cognitive mapping”, European Journal of Operational Research, 36:1-13

Eden, C., Ackermann, F., (1998) “Making Strategy: the journey of strategic management”. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Kelly, G.A., (1995) The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton.

Novak, J.D,. (1993). “How do we learn our lesson?: Taking students through the process”. The Science Teacher, 60(3), 50-55.

Novak, J.D., Gowin, D. B,. (1984). Learning How to Learn. New York: Cambridge University Press.

1. Mind Map® is a registered trademark of the Buzan Organization Limited.


ERICDIGESTS.ORG

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.

PURPOSE OF CONCEPT MAPPING

--To generate ideas (brainstorming)

--To design complex structures (long texts, hypermedia, large web sites)

--To communicate complex ideas

--To aid learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge and

--To assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding.

ADVANTAGES OF CONCEPT MAPPING

--Visual symbols are quickly and easily recognized

--Minimum use of text makes it easy to scan for a word, phrase, or the general idea and

--Visual representation allows for development of a holistic understanding that words alone cannot convey.

APPLICATIONS OF CONCEPT MAPPING

(2) Hypertext Design Tool: As the World Wide Web becomes an increasingly powerful and ubiquitous medium for disseminating information, writers must move from writing text in linear fashion to creating hypertext documents with links to other documents. The structural correspondence between hypertext design and concept maps makes concept mapping a suitable tool for designing the conceptual structure of hypertext. The structure of both a hypertext document and a concept map can be seen as a directed graph or a knowledge graph (Conklin, 1987). A concept map placed on the Web in hypertext may also serve as a Web navigational tool if there are clickable areas on the concept map that take the user immediately to indicated parts of the hypertext document.

Designing hypertext is an activity with inherent problems. Botafogo, Rivlin & Schneiderman (1992) describe a dilemma faced by designers of hypertext authoring systems. In order to stimulate authors to write clearly structured hypertext (usually hierarchical), they have to decide when to force authors to reflect upon the structure of their work. Imposing a hierarchical structure from the beginning may result in too many restrictions for the author, while any effort to stimulate hierarchy afterwards is too late, and it may even be impossible for authors to restructure the jungle of nodes and relationships. Concept mapping may be a good intermediate step for authors to use to reflect upon their work when developing hypermedia. (3) Communication Tool: A concept map produced by one person represents one possible way to structure information or ideas. This is something that can be shared with others. A concept map produced by a group of people represents the ideas of the group. In either case, concept mapping can be used as a communication tool for people to use to discuss concepts and the relationships between the concepts. They may try to agree on a common structure to use as a basis for further action.

(4) Learning Tool: Novak's original work with concept mapping dealt with learning. Constructivist learning theory argues that new knowledge should be integrated into existing structures in order to be remembered and receive meaning. Concept mapping stimulates this process by making it explicit and requiring the learner to pay attention to the relationship between concepts. Jonassen (1996) argues that students show some of their best thinking when they try to represent something graphically, and thinking is a necessary condition for learning. Experiments have shown that subjects using concept mapping outperform non-concept mappers in longer term retention tests (Novak, et al, 1983).

Concept mapping is also gaining inroads as a tool for problem-solving in education. Concept mapping may be used to enhance the problem-solving phases of generating alternative solutions and options. Since problem-solving in education is usually done in small groups, learning should also benefit from the communication enhancing properties of concept mapping.

(5) Assessment Tool: Concept maps can also be used as assessment tools. The research team around Joseph Novak at Cornell found that an important by-product of concept mapping is its ability to detect or illustrate the "misconceptions" learners may have as explanations of content matter. The conceptions students may have are often incomplete and deficient leading to misunderstanding of instruction. Concept maps drawn by students express their conceptions (or their misconceptions) and can help the instructor diagnose the misconceptions that make the instruction ineffective (Ross & Munby, 1991).

ADVANTAGES OF COMPUTER SUPPORT FOR CONCEPT MAPPING

--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."

--Dynamic Linking: Most computer assisted concept mapping tools allow the user to point and drag a concept or group of concepts to another place on the map and automatically update all the appropriate links.

--Conversion: Once a concept map is created using a computer, the program usually allows the user to convert the map to different electronic formats. These can be vector or bitmapped images, a text outline, or even a hypertext structure. These electronic formats can then be stored, sent, manipulated, used, printed, and deleted just like any computer file.

--Communication: Advantages of digital communication are speed, high fidelity, and reliability. Having a concept map in digital format allows the user to send concept maps as attached files with e-mail messages, or include them in World Wide Web pages. Digitizing enhances the possibilities of using concept maps as communication tools.

--Storage: Computer assisted concept mapping allows for digital storage of concept maps. Digital storage takes less space, makes retrieval easier, and is especially important if concept maps will be used on a large scale.

COMPUTER TOOLS--AN EXAMPLE

Anderson-Inman & Zeitz (1993) describe the classroom use of Inspiration and find that it encourages users to revise or change the maps (compared to maps drawn with paper and pencil). The graphical capabilities of Inspiration help users personalize concept maps. These capabilities also provide an incentive for users to manipulate concepts and revise conceptual relationships.

SUMMARY

REFERENCES

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Botafogo, R. A., Rivlin, E., & Schneiderman, B. (1992). Structural analysis of hypertexts: Identifying hierarchies and useful metrics. "ACM Transactions on Information Systems," 10, 142-180.

Conklin, E. J. (1987). Hypertext: An introduction and survey. "Computer," 20(9), 17-41.

Inspiration Software. (1994). "Inspiration for windows: User's manual [computer program manual]." Portland, OR: Author.

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Jonassen, D. H., & Grabowski, B. L. (1993). "Handbook of individual differences: Learning & instruction." Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates. ISBN: 0-8058-1412-4/0-8058-1413-2.

Jonassen, D. H. (1996). "Computers in the classroom: Mindtools for critical thinking." Eaglewoods, NJ: Merill/Prentice Hall.

Lanzing, J. W. A. (1996, July 4). "Everything you always wanted to know about. concept mapping." Internet WWW page at URL at: (http://utto1031.to.utwente.nl/artikel1/) (version current at March 1997).

Novak, J. D., Gowin, D. B., and Johansen, G. T. (1983). The use of concept mapping and knowledge vee mapping with junior high school science students. "Science Education," 67, 625-645.

Novak, J. D. (1993). How do we learn our lesson?: Taking students through the process. "Science Teacher," 60(3), 50-55.

Ross, B., & Munby, H. (1991). Concept mapping and misconceptions: A study of high-school students' understanding of acids and bases. "International Journal of Science Education," 13(1), 11-24. (EJ 442 063)

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Watch the video: How to Make a Concept Map (January 2022).