Concept Maps

Using Concept Maps to organize information

Of all the visual ways of organizing information, concept maps are probably the most popular and most often used. They are fun and easy to create and work well to show the main ideas of a lecture or of a chapter in a book.

Mindmaps and Concept Maps

Tony Buzan made the idea of Mindmaps popular starting in the 1980s. Many people coped his idea and his ways of making mindmaps. Mindmaps were intended for brainstorming, or mapping the relationships in your own mind. If you saw the word pineapple and thought of a pine tree, you could connect them. There are more creative rather than rational.

I mentioned this in the amazing story of Edward Hughes who used Mindmaps and went from a mediocre student to being a top student at Cambridge. If you haven’t read that page, I would recommend it.  Edward Hughes

I prefer the term, Concept Maps. These are intended to show these are intended to be more rational. They are used to show the relationships between a topic and the main ideas.

 What is a Concept Map?

A Concept Map is a diagram showing the relationships between a topic and the main ideas.A Concept map on the subject of concept mapping

I  used a Concept Map here to explain the purposes, structure and uses of Concept Maps, as well as a few suggestions on creating Concept Maps.

The Structure of the Concept Map

In this concept map, it would be hard to describe Purpose, Structure, How to Make, and Uses as “main ideas.”  They should probably be called categories.

What is the Purpose of a Concept Map?

If you look at the lower section, the main category says “Purpose: Organizing Data.”  The categories at the next level suggest that you could organize date in order to Show the Structure, Show Relationships, Show Main Ideas, and Show Details. Putting all of this together, you should have a clear idea about the Purpose of a Concept Map.

What is the Structure of a Concept Map?

You could, of course, understand the structure by looking at the map. The section on the left side describes it clearly. According this this, you can read that the structure includes the main topic in the center, the main ideas around and connected to the main topic, further levels of ideas, and can include details.

When the topic is at the top of the page, it is generally called a branching diagram. Branching diagrams often show levels of importance. It might have the School Principal at the top, the Assistant Principals and maybe guidance counselors on the second level, and the teachers on the third level. Many businesses use these.

How do you Make a Concept Map?

Look at the top of this Concept Map. Putting it into sentences, it says that to Make a Concept Map, you can use any shapes, and colors, and any Images. You should make it memorable and make it yours.

There is no best way to make a concept map. Mr. Buzan would disagree with me but this concept map should help you display the main ideas or categories in a way that makes sense to you and will help you remember them.

For more suggestions read  Creating Your Own Concept Map

How can you Use a Concept Map?

According the the Concept Map above, you can use a concept map to organize information from lectures and from your reading assignments. You can also use one to organize your own ideas for a report or paper you need to write, for an essay question on a test, or for making a speech.

Yes, you are often told to use an outline for many of these purposes. Outlines and Concept maps are a lot alike. They both organize the main ideas and related details. The advantages of an outline is that you can put the ideas in order, and you can include much more detailed information.  The advantages of a concept map is that it uses your visual memory, and because it needs to be short, you use short phrases rather than having so much written material.

I suggest using both for some material. Use concept maps to get a clear idea of the structure. Use an outline when there is a lot of detailed information to study.

To read the amazing story of Edward Hughes:  The story of Edward Hughes


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