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Concept Mapping


A cognitive map is a 'kind of visual road map showing some of the pathways we ... According to Novak and Gowan, concept maps should be hierarchical. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Concept Mapping

Concept Mapping
  • Dr. Idna M. Corbett
  • West Chester University

Ausubels Theory
  • David Ausubel is a psychologist who advanced a
    theory which contrasted meaningful learning from
    rote learning.
  • Ausubels theory is involved with how individuals
    learn large amounts of meaningful material from
    verbal/textual lessons in school, as opposed to
    theories of learning developed in laboratories.
  • Ausubels subsumption theory contends that the
    most important single factor influencing learning
    is what the learner already knows (Ausubel,
  • According to Ausubel, a primary process in
    learning is subsumption in which new material is
    related to relevant ideas in the existing
    cognitive structures.
  • Ausubel proposes an instructional mode using
    advance organizers. He emphasizes that advance
    organizers are different from overviews and
    summaries which simply emphasize key ideas and
    details in an arbitrary manner. Organizers act
    as a subsuming bridge (Ausubel, 1963) between
    new learning material and existing related ideas.

Meaningful Learning Contrasted with Rote Learning
  • Rote Learning
  • Arbitrary, verbatim, non-substantive
    incorporation of new knowledge into cognitive
  • No effort to integrate new knowledge with
    existing concepts in cognitive structure.
  • Learning not related to experience with events or
  • No affective commitment to relate new knowledge
    to prior learning.

  • Meaningful Learning
  • Non-arbitrary, non-verbatim, substantive
    incorporation of new knowledge into cognitive
  • Deliberate effort to link new knowledge with
    higher order concepts in cognitive structure
  • Learning related to experiences with events or
  • Affective commitment to relate new knowledge to
    prior learning.

Novaks Concept Mapping Technique
  • The concept mapping technique was developed by
    Joseph D. Novak at Cornell University.
  • Novak concluded that "Meaningful learning
    involves the assimilation of new concepts and
    propositions into existing cognitive structures".
  • Novaks work was based on the theories of
  • Novak and Gowan (1984) have developed a theory of
    instruction that is based on Ausubel's meaningful
    learning principles that incorporates "concept
    maps" to represent meaningful relationships
    between concepts and propositions.

  • A cognitive map is a kind of visual road map
    showing some of the pathways we may take to
    connect meanings of concepts.
  • According to Novak and Gowan, concept maps should
    be hierarchical.
  • The more general, more inclusive concepts should
    be at the top of the map, and the more specific,
    less inclusive concepts at the bottom of the map.

What is concept mapping?
  • Concept mapping is a technique for representing
    knowledge in graphs.
  • Knowledge graphs are networks of concepts.
  • Networks consist of nodes and links.
  • Nodes represent concepts and links represent the
    relations between concepts.

  • Concepts and links are labeled.
  • Links can be non-, uni- or bi-directional.
  • Concepts and links may be categorized. They can
  • simply associative,
  • Specified, or
  • divided in categories such as causal or temporal

Purposes of Concept Mapping
  • to generate ideas (brain storming, etc.)
  • to design a complex structure (long texts,
    hypermedia, large web sites, etc.)
  • to communicate complex ideas
  • to aid learning by explicitly integrating new and
    old knowledge
  • to assess understanding or diagnose

Concept mapping as a student learning tool
  • To learn course material
  • Students can use concept maps to take class
  • Students can use concept maps to organize class
    notes or course material.
  • To integrate course content
  • Students can use concept maps to connect material
    learned throughout the semester.
  • To integrate material across different courses
  • Often students fail to see the relationship
    between different classes that they have taken.
  • Concept mapping can foster a student's
    understanding of how different courses relate if
    they map the prominent concepts from different
    courses that they have taken (e.g. compose one
    map of terms from a statistics class and a
    research design class).

  • To assess their own learning. Concept maps can
    be used to assess changes and growth in the
    students' conceptual understanding as a result of
    instruction received in the course.
  • Learning can be evaluated before a course begins
    (to evaluate students' prior knowledge), during
    the semester (to evaluate changes in the
    students' knowledge), and/or at the end of the
    semester (to evaluate the students' knowledge
    after all course material has been covered).
  • Concept maps can be used to evaluate changes in
    learning over time and to evaluate end of course
  • A concept map can provide feedback to the student
    so that s/he can check her/his understanding of
    the material to see if any connections are

1. Identify the important terms or concepts that
you want to include on your map
  • There are three strategies to identify important
    concepts to include concepts on a concept map
  • An instructor generated list and students are not
    permitted to add their own concepts
  • An instructor generated list but the students are
    allowed to add their own concepts to the list
  • An entirely student-generated list of concepts on
    a particular subject
  • For novice concept mappers, it is probably best
    to have the terms provided.

2. Arrange concepts in a pattern that best
represents the information
  • One can choose to use a hierarchical or
    non-hierarchical structure.
  • The use of hierarchical or non-hierarchical maps
    may have different benefits in terms of pedagogy
    and assessment.
  • Novice mappers may want to create their concept
    maps using post-it notes so that they can easily
    change the location of any concept before a final
    version is constructed.

3. Use circles or ovals to enclose an important
term or concept within the topic
  • Each circle or oval should enclose only one term
    or concept. However, terms can be more than one

4. Use straight lines with arrows (single or
double-headed) to link terms that are related
  • Each line should link only two concepts.
  • However, there is no limit to the number of links
    stemming from any one term.
  • Pay close attention to the direction of the
    arrowheads on the linking lines when labeling
  • Each concept is defined by its relation to other
    concepts within the topic. Relations include
    superset, subset, attribute, part-whole.

5. Use a word or phrase of words as labels along
the lines to designate the relationship between
two connected terms
  • Each line should have a label that describes the
    relationship between the two terms it connects.
  • Example

relationship link
relationship link
feedback loop link
mutual relationship link
mutual relationship link
Examples of concept maps
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How to make concept mapping a fruitful exercise
  • Students need to producing maps the more they do
    it, the better theyll understand the process.
  • Begin with a simple topic, using a small number
    of concepts.
  • Work through example(s) with the group, modifying
    the map where necessary using post-it notes can
    help to develop confidence and facilitates
  • Emphasize importance of thinking about all
    possible links.
  • Emphasize importance of writing down the nature
    of the links.
  • Emphasize that there is no single correct
    answer often more than one appropriate link.
  • Emphasize importance of using arrows and their
    direction in describing the proposition.

From http//
  • Ausubel, David P. (1968). Educational Psychology,
    A Cognitive View. New York Holt, Rinehart and
    Winston, Inc. Ausubel, David P. (1967). Learning
    Theory and classroom Practice. Ontario The
    Ontario Institute For Studies In Education.
  • Ausubel, David P. (1963). The Psychology of
    Meaningful Verbal Learning. New York Grune
    Stratton.Angelo, T. A. and Cross, K. P. Classroom
    Assessment Techniques, A Handbook for College
    Teachers (2nd ed., p. 197). Jossey-Bass, San
    Francisco, 1993.
  • Jonassen, D.H., Beissneer K., and Yacci, M.A.
    (1993) Structural Knowledge Techniques for
    Conveying, Assessing, and Acquiring Structural
    Knowledge. Hillsdale, NJ Lawrence Erlbaum
  • Novak, J.D. (1991) "Clarify with Concept Maps A
    tool for students and teachers alike," The
    Science Teacher, 58 (7), pp. 45-49.
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  • Use of concept maps in teaching