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Concept maps: Learning made visible


Title: Leading concepts out of isolation: Using concept maps to aid teaching and learning Author: abrcka Last modified by: abrcka Created Date: 12/4/2007 4:38:04 PM – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Concept maps: Learning made visible

Concept mapsLearning made visible
  • Allison BrckaLorenz
  • Center for Teaching
  • 4039 Main Library
  • 335-6058

(No Transcript)
What is a concept map?
  • Cognitive mapping a kind of mental processing
    with which people can acquire and recall
  • Concept mapping is a practical use of cognitive
  • Other practical uses of cognitive mapping
  • Mind mapping, mental mapping, argument mapping,
    semantic mapping, etc.

What is a concept map?
  • Carefully examine these examples of maps
  • How are the maps similar?
  • How are the maps different?
  • Which do you think are examples of concept

This is an example of a flow chart flow charts
are used to describe a process or plan the stages
of a project, there is usually not hierarchical
arrangement, and linking words usually answer
These are examples of a family tree family
trees have a hierarchical structure, nodes
consists of people, and linking lines imply a
type of family relationship
Flow Chart. http//
http// www.hqb
This is an example of a mind map. Mind maps
often use pictures or symbols, do not necessarily
have hierarchical arrangement, and are often used
for brainstorming.
This is an example of an argument map or a
rationale map such maps are used to informally
represent the structure of an argument
hierarchical arrangement usually exists nodes
consist of a contention, premises, objections,
Margulies, N. (1991). Mapping inner space
Learning and teaching mind mapping. Tucson, AZ
Zephyr Press.
Argument Map. http//
This is an example of a semantic map semantic
maps are often used to extend or introduce new
vocabulary, nodes are words or categories of
words, linking lines are relationships of
This is an example of a concept map!
(Novak, 1998)
What makes this map different from the other maps?
Key elements of a concept map
  1. A grounding in assimilation learning theory and
    constructivism (new knowledge related to old
    knowledge, progressive differentiation, etc.)
  2. Hierarchical Organization (general/abstract
    notions subsume specifics/details)
  3. Meaningful labeled links (linking words and
    concepts should form a meaningful proposition)
  4. Concepts areconceptsperceived regularity in
    objects or events (Novak Gowin, 1984)not
    images, thoughts, sentences, people, events, etc.

Concept maps of concept maps
(Novak Musonda, 1991)
(Novak, 1998)
(Canas, A. J., Coffey, J. W., Carnot, M. J.,
Feltovich, P., Hoffman, R. R., Feltovich, J.,
Novak, J. D., 2003)
So what are these?
(Novak, 1998)
What is the theoretical background of concept
  • David Ausubel (1960s)
  • Assimilation theorya learning theory in which
    new material is learned when it can be related to
    existing knowledge
  • This distinguishes between rote learning and
    meaningful learning
  • Ausubel believed that the most important factor
    to influence learning was what the learner
    already knew

What is the theoretical background of concept
  • Joseph Novak (1970s)
  • He started using concept mapping as way to
    represent new science knowledge to students
  • He used Ausubels assimilation theory and
    constructivism (learners actively construct
    knowledge) to write his book Learning How to
    Learn (Novak Gowin, 1984) and to formalize the
    technique of concept mapping

What does other literature have to say about
concept mapping?
  • Students enjoy or have positive attitudes about
    concept mapping
  • Concept mapping can reduce test and content
  • Students and teachers find that concept mapping
    helps students learn course material more deeply
  • Concept mapping is a valid and reliable tool for
    evaluating students differences in learning
  • Students maps are a valid and reliable way to
    identify student misconceptions

Introducing concept mapping
  • Start concept mapping training early
  • Dont assign a concept mapping exercise without
    some training
  • Formalize concept, proposition, linking word
  • Formalize your expectations in terms of
    hierarchy, linking words, examples
  • Show students what you consider to be a
    well-crafted map and what maps could be improved
  • Allow students the opportunity to practice
    mapping several times before formally evaluating
    their maps
  • See Novak Gowins tips for introducing concept
    maps to your students

How to create a concept map
  1. Identify your topic or focus question
  2. List important concepts associated with the topic
    (10 to 20 is a good start)
  3. Rank the concepts from most general at the top to
    most specific at the bottom (add concepts as
  4. Arrange the topics on the mapping field
  5. Add linking phrases to describe relationships
  6. Look for crosslinks
  7. Review, make changes, and finalize

Lets create a concept map
  • Start with the focus concept SPRING
  • List concepts related to spring (try for 10-15)
  • Rank concepts according to level of abstraction
    and arrange hierarchically
  • Add linking phrases between concepts
  • Look for crosslinks
  • Review, make changes, and finalize

Best Practice Advice
  • Give students a clear focus question to guide
    their maps
  • Dont give the assignment Create a map for the
    word SPRING.
  • A better assignment Describe the forces
    affecting a mass hanging on a spring.
  • Give students good parameters in which to work
    (be clear with your rules for hierarchy, types
    and numbers of concepts, linking words, etc.)let
    them know what you expect from them!
  • Never ask students to memorize and replicate a
    given mapthis works against meaningful learning
  • Never forget that concept mapping is less about
    the structure of the map and more about
    communicating ideas in a different format

Concept maps and technology
  • Many software programs exist for the purposes of
    concept mapping
  • Cmap (http//
  • Free, very easy to use and share, very
  • Inspiration (
  • Very easy to use, K-12 focus, only free in
    certain campus labs
  • Glinkr (
  • Free with registration, less easy to use, not as
  • FreeMind (http//
  • Free, not very customizable, fun icons
  • Compendium (
  • Not intuitive, not very customizable, a little

Concept maps and technology
  • Great Cmap Features
  • Easy to add attachments (documents, websites,
    figures, tables, etc.)
  • A variety of ways to share maps
  • Knowledge soups
  • List View converts maps to and from
  • Built-in presentation features
  • Build and edit maps with others using
    synchronous collaboration

Concept maps and Cmap
  • Lets try creating a map in Cmap using your
    SPRING map
  • Open Cmap
  • Double click to create your first concept
  • Drag from the arrow box to connect the next
  • A single click on a concept shows the concepts
    arrow icon
  • Holding shift while dragging gives a connecting
    line without a linking word
  • Change colors and shapes Format -gt Styles
  • Note the tabs Font, Object, Line, Cmap

Concept maps and Cmap
  • Try sharing your map
  • Save your map with your hawkid
  • Then save your map to the shared folder
  • Click the world iconthis allows you to share
    your map on the public Cmap servers
  • Save in the IHMC Publc Cmaps ? UI Concept
    Mapping Workshop folder
  • Edit ? Refresh allows you to see newly added maps
  • Double clicking a map will open it for viewing

Concept mapping as a teaching tool
  • Use as an advance organizer

Concept mapping as a teaching tool
  • Introduce a new topic

(maps adapted from Novak, 1998, pp. 54-55)
Concept mapping as a teaching tool
  • Create a Course Map
  • Collectively create the map as the course
  • Allow students to supply the key concepts and
  • Alternative idea have students create mini-maps
    that can be combined into a comprehensive map
  • Alternative idea use the courses discussion
    session to create a master map of the weeks topic

Concept mapping as a teaching tool
  • Varieties of complete the map
  • Fill in the concepts
  • Dont give students a list of concepts to use
  • OR do give students a list of concepts to use
    (list some related but incorrect words as well)
  • Fill in the propositions
  • Similarly do or do not give students a list of
    linking words to use

Concept mapping as a teaching tool
  • Concept Maps and Writing Assignments
  • Write about horizontal linking lines

(Cilburn, 1987)
  • Structure an essay assignment for students with a
  • Let students structure their essay assignment for
    you with a map

Concept mapping as a teaching tool
  • Create Misconception Maps
  • Display and discuss concept maps with commonly
    used inaccurate connections among topics or
    applications of commonly used inappropriate
  • Have students analyze the maps in order to
    correct the concepts and connections

Concept mapping as a learning tool
  • A note taking tool
  • Distribute simplified maps of your lecture for
    students to use as an outline for note-taking
  • Teach students how to map and encourage them to
    take notes in this format
  • A tool for studying
  • Have students map various size units of text or
    their lecture notes in preparation for an exam

Concept mapping as a learning tool
  • Collaborative mapping
  • Have students work in groups to diagram their
    understanding of a topic
  • Working together can help generate whole-group
  • Mistakes that appear during collaborative mapping
    will show a lack of understanding by more than
    one student

Concept mapping as a learning tool
  • Preparing for laboratory exercises or practicum
  • Before the experience, have students map the
    necessary background information
  • During the experience (if possible), have
    students link events to their background map
  • After the experience, have students map any
    conclusions or summaries and synthesize these
    into their original map
  • Such mapping can help students reflect on events
    and help make connections between theory and

Concept mapping as a learning tool
  • Students can really see their learning in pre-
    and post mapping exercises
  • Have students create a map of their knowledge of
    the course material at the beginning of the
  • Collect this map from students and save it
  • Have students create map of their knowledge of
    the course material at the end of the course
  • Return students maps from the beginning of the
    course so they can visually see all of the
    learning that occurred

Concept mapping as a learning tool
  • Preparing for and summarizing readings
  • Teach students how to map a reading
  • Before reading, students skim the table of
    contents, foreword, introduction, summaries,
    charts, etc.
  • During reading, students can make notes on
    Post-its of key events and examples
  • The pre-map can serve as a guide to thinking
    about content
  • After reading, students can transfer their
    notes/Post-its to the pre-map as a guide to
    mapping the entire reading

Concept mapping as a learning tool
  • Lets collaboratively pre-map a book
  • Use one of the given books, or use a book youve
    brought with you
  • Skim the table of contents, chapter subheadings,
    index, forward, pictures, charts, graphs,
    introductions, summaries, back cover, etc.
  • As you begin to map, think
  • What appear to be the big ideas in the book?
  • What does it appear that the authors want you to
  • How do the main topics appear to be related?
  • How is the book structured?
  • Does the order of topics matter?
  • How are examples introduced?

Assessing and evaluating concept maps
  • Summative assessments
  • Periodic assessments designed to determine what
    students do an do not know
  • Standardized exams, quizzes, formal essay,
    midterms, finals, etc.
  • Formative assessments
  • Informal assessments designed to check on
    students progress
  • Observations, in-class discussion, reflection
    papers, practice problems, etc.

Assessing and evaluating concept maps
  • Any of the given exercises so far could be used
    as a summative assessment, but the following
    examples work particularly well
  • Have students create a map given a list of key
    concepts Below are seven concepts associated
    with insert topic. Use them to construct a
  • You could supply a longer list (with some
    commonly used misconception concepts) and have
    them select a smaller amount of concepts to use.
  • The following slide is an example of a students
    map on a mid-term exam in the course Theory and
    Methods of Education
  • The instructor gave students a list of thirty
    concepts to use and the instructions to add
    additional concepts as needed to complete their

Assessing and evaluating concept maps
Assessing and evaluating concept maps
  • Alternative examples of summative assessment
  • Have students create a map without a given set
    of concepts. This will allow you to see what the
    students thought was important
  • Give students a map of what you would like to
    assess and have them write an essay telling the
    story of the given map
  • Note that in any assessment you do not want to
    ask students to recall from a memorized mapthis
    will not promote meaningful learning!

Assessing and evaluating concept maps
  • Again, any of the given exercises so far could be
    used as a formative assessment, but the following
    exercises work particularly well (have students
    turn these in or look at them during class)
  • Have students map the previously assigned
  • Have students map their small-group discussions
    of a given topic
  • Have students map a summary of a given set of
    class periods
  • Have students map topics that they would like
    more information on or do not understand (these
    maps can then be addressed directly in small- or
    large-group discussions

Assessing and evaluating concept maps
  • In analyzing students maps during a formative
    assessment, you can see what are students basic
    understandings of a topic

Assessing and evaluating concept maps
  • And you can see which students have a more
    advanced understanding of a topic

Assessing and evaluating concept maps
  • Concept maps are commonly graded or evaluated
    using rubrics
  • Rubrics are scoring tools that use a
    predetermined set of standards to assess criteria
    that are complex and subjective
  • They articulate in writing the criteria and
    standards that an instructor will be using to
    evaluate student work
  • Rubrics can help link graded criteria to learning
    objectives, can help relate assignments to course
    content, and can help make grading criteria
  • For these reasons, it is often a good idea to
    share your rubric with your students

Assessing and evaluating concept maps
High Score Characteristics
Medium Score Characteristics
Low score Characteristics
A paper Adequately states and defends argument Appropriate citations Counterarguments are identified and adequately answered
B paper Has an argument with some weakly defended points Mostly appropriate citations Not all counterarguments are answered
C paper Incorrect factual statements Mostly non-scholarly citations No counterarguments
Trait High score Criteria
Medium score Criteria
Low score Criteria
Spelling 10 points Paper has no spelling errors
8 points Paper has 1 spelling error
5 points Paper has two or more spelling errors
Assessing and evaluating concept maps
  • What do you think belongs in a rubric of a
    concept map?
  • Look at some of these example rubrics
  • What do you like and not like about them?
  • What make them easier to use?
  • What makes them more difficult to use?
  • What other things are important to you to add?
  • Use one of these rubrics (or an adaption) to
    evaluate the given ANIMALS map
  • How does using one or another rubric change the
    evaluation of the map?

Concept maps as a planning tool
  • Lesson preparation
  • Map your plan for a lecture or use a map to
    integrate several lectures
  • Distribute a simplified version of the lesson map
    to students as an outline of the days lecture
  • Use a map of students background knowledge so
    that you can plan to build on what they already

Concept maps as a planning tool
  • Lecture Notes
  • A concept map can be a useful tool to ensure you
    dont forget any of the important points in a
  • Lesson maps can help you to decide in which areas
    to abbreviate if you are running short on time
  • Lesson maps can be useful visual aids for
    yourself and for your students to follow along

Concept maps as a planning tool
  • Lesson evaluation
  • Periodically collect students maps of your
    lecture to make sure youre emphasizing the
    points you want to make
  • Have a colleague attend and map your lecture for
    comparison and feedback
  • Create a set of classroom rules with your
    students using concept maps
  • Time management
  • Useful for planning your week, your day,
    classroom pacing, classroom goals, etc.
  • Possible branches include things to remember,
    things of urgency, things needed to prepare, etc.

Concept maps as a planning tool
  • Concept maps are now commonly used to plan and
    evaluate curricula
  • Mapping can be applied to several levels of
    curriculaprogram, course, chapter, topic, ensure that an overall organization
  • Mapping curricular units can help with pacing and
  • If one branch seems to crowded, spilt it into
    separate branches. If your assignments are too
    clustered, restructure the homework

Concept maps as a planning tool
The following is the classic template for
curricular planning
Concept maps as a planning tool
Concept maps can even be used to plan workshops!
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