Concept Mapping: A Beginners Guide

an example concept map for a website

Usually, when you have a lot of thoughts and ideas in your mind, you take a paper and a pen or create a document and just start writing everything all at once which creates a messy, jumbled picture, and the whole document becomes overwhelming, lacking clarity. It makes it hard to see the full picture and you’re unable to focus on what is missing. Here is when “Concept Maps” come in handy.

Ever Heard Of Concept Maps?       

Concept maps help in the visual display of images, ideas, phrases, or sentences that connects to create a wide picture. They’re created as two-dimensional diagrams, comprising of a central topic that breaks down into sub-topics that are connected through linking words that explain the connection such as “influenced by,” “leads to,” “for the purpose of,” etc. The concepts and ideas are written in boxes or circles with interconnecting labels, lines, and arrows to explain the nature and direction of relationships. 

Particularly, concept maps are used for teaching and learning, specifically the scientific concepts. Through an online mind map, knowledge can be presented in a structured, hierarchical way aiding the understanding of the reader, who would be able to link sub-concepts back with the central idea. 

Jargons of Concept Mapping

Elements and components that make concept maps are nodes, cross-links, linking phrases, proposition, and structure. 

  1. Node,cross-link,and linking phrases: Ideas are put inside a box known as nodes, written as concisely as possible, it is usually a short phrase. The lines between different nodes are called cross-links and each link shows its linking phrase to explain relationships between nodes. 
  1. Proposition: A propositional structure of a concept map entails two nodes with linking phrase that is readable and forms a meaningful sentence.
  1. Structure: Concept maps can be drawn as a free-form but ideal and preferable format is hierarchical structure because they help in putting the most important concepts at a visual center and then align nodes accordingly. 

5 Steps for Making a Concept Map

  1. Select a medium: Some people use paper and a pen because they’re readily available but the chances are it can be lost. Mindomo offers an online mind mapping software that is user-friendly, allowing it users to either select a blank map or select from various pre-made templates, making it easier to save, edit and share your diagram with absolutely no hassle.
  1. Ascertain the main concept: Determine the central concept that you want to explore. This is also known as a focus question that helps you in identifying the problem that the concept map will resolve. Make sure that your concept map leads back to the question and its answer and doesn’t divert to information that is not relevant.
  1. Identify the related sub-concepts: After selecting the main topic, make a list of related sub-topics or ideas and then rank them as general or specific. Describe each concept as concisely as possible, this will keep your map from being text-heavy. 
  1. Make nodes and lines: Try to order your ideas in a hierarchical format, starting with most general at the top to most specific at the bottom. Add linking phrases and lines to illustrate relationships between different nodes.
  1. Adjust the map: When adding links, make sure whether every element is in place or can I use a more specific linking phrase to represent the relation more accurately. Such cross-questions to yourself will improve your understanding and knowledge.

So the next time you feel stressed, finding difficulty in problem-solving or just simply trying to jot down scribbled ideas in your mind – go Concept Mapping! 

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