Concept mapping was initially used in the 70s to demonstrate how students understand a specific topic or problem. Shortly after, it found its way into the educational arena, where it proved beneficial for assessing students’ understanding of a problem while explaining and summarizing the problem itself.
Concept mapping has a significant role to play in our everyday decision-making. Say, for instance, that it’s breakfast time and you are starving. You decide to make a sandwich for yourself. It might seem like an easy and straightforward task, but wait until you actually get up and go to the refrigerator. You’ll have to answer questions like what ingredients are needed to prepare a sandwich, who eats sandwiches, how they are made, and the list goes on.
That’s precisely where concept mapping comes in handy.
Let’s explore answers to all questions like “What is a concept map?” “Examples of a concept map?” and “How to make a concept map?”
What Is a Concept Map?
Are you struggling to wrap your mind around what is a concept map?
Well, the terms “concept” and “map” are generally quite common, but when put together they refer to something definite and perhaps less familiar.
A concept map is a diagram demonstrating relationships between different ideas. It’s a graphical tool used to visualize relationships between various concepts and ideologies.
In other words, it’s focused brainstorming where overarching concepts are broken down into smaller parts using arrows. Words are linked to show how ideas are connected, making them an incredibly beneficial tool for learning, strategic analysis, and explaining new concepts.
Concept mapping is widely used in engineering, healthcare, business and education to develop and promote better memory retention, improved understanding of complicated philosophies, and clear thinking skills.
How to Make a Concept Map?
Undoubtedly, a concept map helps its users gain a better understanding of multifaceted notions, see the big picture, and identify new connections through the collaborative and graphical methodology.
Are you struggling to create a concept map?
Now that you are clear on What is a concept map, let’s get started with a step-by-step guide on how to create a concept map.
- Choose a Drawing Medium
Many of us are quite comfortable using pen and paper, or even a whiteboard, as they’re within reach and readily available. But are they professional enough? Can you save your whiteboard or paper scribbles? Is it possible to give a finished look to your hand-drawn diagrams?
In a word, no.
Hence, it’s essential to select the right digital drawing medium capable of saving your diagrams in a professional manner. Not only this, they allow you to polish your diagram, easily edit, and even share with respective team members, thereby increasing team collaboration. Indeed, the online market is saturated with hundreds of different cloud-based visual workstations; choose the one that best matches your needs.
- Identify the Core Concept
After choosing the medium, it’s vital to determine the core concept that needs to be addressed or explained in detail. If you are unsure where to start, make an effort to identify a problematic text or topic that needs explanation.
It’s advisable to start with a single question, also referred to as a “focus question.” It should clearly specify the concept or problem the concept map has to solve.
- List Crucial Related Concepts
Now, write down related concepts by listing them according to priority, going from general to specific. This step is called a “parking lot” due to the nature of arranging ideas. Remember, your concept map must contain roughly 15 to 25 key ideas. Describe each of them concisely and briefly, preferably one or two words per idea.
It’s quite helpful in keeping your concept map organized and avoiding cluttered, bloated, and text-heavy visuals.
- Link Ideas with Lines and Shapes
Organize your concepts in a hierarchical manner, with general ideas presented at the top, followed by most specific ones. Concept mapping takes form as you begin to connect ideas with lines, pinpointing the correct location for each conceptualization.
Concept maps generally include liking words that help make sense of the connection between the general and specific concepts.
- Polish the Concept Map
Adding links to the concept map requires examining relevant concepts and their relationship with the central idea. Ensure they improve cognitive performance and challenge the knowledge on any topic. To help you get started, ask these questions:
- Is there a more accurate linking word?
- Does each element fit its corresponding position properly?
- Is there a better position for a specific concept?
This fine-tuning of your concept mapping helps cross-functional teams to be on the same page and work towards solving a shared goal.
Examples of a Concept Map
Here are a few examples of a concept map to help you get started:
Hierarchical Concept Map
In a hierarchy concept map, the focus idea is at the top of the hierarchy. It’s all presented in descending order of importance, from top to bottom. The central concept is divided into subordinate concepts and further broken down into relevant topics and linking words. In order words, the general philosophies are at the top, and the specific ones come below as you move down the map.
The spider concept map is organized by placing the main concept in the center of the documents with branches to relevant ideas. A spider map is the easiest way to create a concept map that enhances your clear understanding of the focused concept.
Another quite common example of a concept map is a flowchart. In this type of concept mapping, the entire information is listed in a linear format, as the name suggests, starting with the central concept and followed by related ones.
The systems map is considered the most thorough graphical representation of a concept or information. The systems concept map presents all the information in a flowchart-like format. There are plenty of additions of inputs and outputs through the concept map diagram.
The concept map is a graphical representation of a concept and its relationship with subordinate concepts. Creating a concept map isn’t difficult, but it does require the right resources, tools, research, and a definite purpose in mind. The systematic steps discussed above can help you quickly create a concept map from scratch.