Short notes on concept mapping

In preparation for a concept mapping assignment I ran during the course of this year, I did some reading on concept mapping, during which I made some short notes. Here they are…

Concept mapping is useful to establish relationships between ideas and has been linked to 30 % improvement in student understanding

Ausubel’s assimilation theory: Meaningful learning involves changing ones current knowledge as a result of the comprehension of new knowledge

Concept: anything that can be named / perceived regularities or patterns

Proposition: an expression of the relationship between concepts

Maps: represents knowledge using diagrams that express concepts and relationships

Linking phrases: without the relations, knowledge would not “cohere”

The most important single factor influencing learning, is what the learner already knows (Ausubel, 1968)

In the process of meaningful learning, people construct meanings for concepts and propositions based on experiences, building up their knowledge structure

Meaningful learning involves changing ones current knowledge as a result of the comprehension of new knowledge

There needs to be:

  • Differentiation of concepts
  • Superordination of concepts under more general, more inclusive concepts
  • Subsumption of new concepts into existing, more general concepts and propositions
  • Integrative reconciliation to achieve coherence and consistency

Drawing a map:

  • Helps the designer understand the problem
  • Is a creative process (new discoveries are made as the map is drawn)
  • Helps establish credibility within the team
  • The map itself offers the first chance to interject the user as a guiding concept for the product

Progressive cognition (3 levels): review at a glance → readable with some attention → deeper, richer understanding can be layered in

Drawing a map:

  1. Identify main concept
  2. List related concepts (don’t worry about organisation, importance, completeness)
  3. Draw a rough map
  4. Interview team members and domain experts
  5. Identify synonyms and instances (remove redundancy, cluster related concepts)
  6. Redraw, redraw, redraw (each time you’ll discover new connections)
  7. Get feedback from the team
  8. Repeat 4-7

Maps can be redrawn and rearranged to highlight different concepts

Choose a dominant position, use a hierarchy, different colours, etc.

Posted to Diigo 08/21/2011

    • “ ‘Thunks’ are deceptively tricky little questions that ‘make your brain go ouch!’

      Ian’s examples of ‘Thunks’ include:

      • ‘Is a broken down car parked?’
      • ‘If you read a newspaper in the newsagents without paying for it, is it stealing?’
      • ‘Do all polo’s taste the same?’
      • ‘Can you be proud of someone you have never met?’
      • ‘Is a hole a thing?’
    • Active Learning-I ask students to use their prior experiences (interests, hobbies, coursework) in a service learning project for my class, using what they know, and connections they have been able to make, to benefit others. They propose their own projects.


      This idea has all 5 components:
      a. Incorporating peer feedback into a course.
      b. By giving students the opportunity to learn how to give feedback to classmates’ works-in-progress, this motivates students to perform at the same or higher level or their peers in a non-threatening way.
      c. It is also an activity which reinforces learning of the subject matter (active & challenging).
      d. It can create a sense of support and community because the students are helping each other improve their own works (and grades!)
      e. And peer feedback allows students to gain an appreciation for classmates’ efforts and a glimpse of the instructor or professor’s role.

    • When students are stressed by the lesson, find a way to show how you (the teacher) messed up learning the topic
    • First day of class: When introducing class & trying to establish rapport, have the students say where they see themselves in 3 to 5 years
    • I give several smaller “low-risk” assignments in addition to “high-risk” mid-terms and finals
    • Share with my students some of my personal stories as a student, my stories and failures
    • I teach a 3rd year/level class and on the first day of a particular subject, in this case hydraulics, I give them an exam of what they should know from 1st year. I eventually let them take it home to complete it on their own
    • review some student work in class in front of the class, inviting student input. It challenges many students to work harder on their own work
    • I give an exam which I grade and return as soon as feasible to the students. I identify the learning outcomes that most students missed and offer students another test that focuses ONLY on those learning outcomes using different test items. They know they have a chance to improve their exam grades with the subsequent test score.

    • apply newly acquired knowledge to themselves or someone they are familiar with
    • In many sciences, students are concerned about memorizing information (ex. Periodic Table). I tell them that we never used to memorize an atlas, but we learn how to use it as a tool/reference
    • At the end of each lecture topic, students hand it a slip of paper with two items: “Got it”-what they understood and “don’t get it”-what they don’t understand. Once a week, results are posted on Moodle and explanations given for the “don’t get it” items
    • Collaborative learning: I found that students learn better and smooth out their rough edges when they combine conflicting analysis to produce a bounded unit of learning
    • When composing homework assignments, I combine questions of varying difficulty. I ultimately include a problem or two beyond the difficulty required for my course and offer extra credit for solving these problems. The number of students that choose to step up to the challenge is so incredibly refreshing and motivating
    • Have students take responsibility for their learning by applying lesson concepts to their occupations, field of expertise, and personal experience
    • The student gets to choose a topic they feel they could teach the class (for 15 minutes), they become the expert with certain guidelines to follow. Motivation—they are the “star” for 15 minutes. Active learning—they research. Task—they choose the topic. Community—they all practice with each other to get feedback before their 15 minute presentation. Holistic—they learn all types of things; respect, confidence, professionalism, body language, etc.
    • In a writing course, students receive each others drafts throughout the semester and one by one the whole class peer reviews the drafts. Students learn from other student papers and gain critical feedback on their own paper. In other words, every paper is read by every student, and every student must provide feedback.
    • Start each class with a “hook”—something that is contextual and related to the day’s concepts—provides relevancy and captures interest and involvement
    • I engage students to choose a concept from the course and teach a segment of the class.
    • Take students’ pictures 1st day of class and memorize their names. Call students by name from the 2nd class on. Use their names frequently. This instills community and aids in engagement because students cannot hide
    • Allow students to text you with questions
    • I am a student—I am tired (flight came in late). I am hungry (I missed lunch), I can’t concentrate (my daughter keeps texting me). How will you engage me? Tell me a story, a story with characters facing shocking/new or interesting challenges. Then ask me about it, allowing me to be a little grumpy, but encouraging me to continue to participate and reward my efforts. I will cheer up and feel transformed by your class session
    • “Self-correcting exams”: Students are able to alter test answers after the fact—through additional research/working with other students—and resubmit exam responses for additional partial credit.
      • Can the Ethics oral exam use a similar approach? After the exam students go and write a short reflective essay on what was discussed during the exam?
    • Clarify how knowledge that is being taught is important to students’ future work and/or life. Students will value only what they believe they need to know and will use in work/life
    • Problem based learning in groups. Assigning a facilitator in the group and then pick an idea that there isn’t a right answer. You can use concept mapping. First, students present the problem. Second, they find resources and list them. Third, they investigate solutions to the problem and list them. Fourth, they identify the three best solutions. Last, they pick the best one and provide the reason
    • I ask my students (every week), why are you here? I note week one and compare it with the final week. Typical observation: growing ambition.

    • Motivation and Value: I get my students to stop thinking like a student, rather think like a teacher (or a professional in their field) to see the value of the activities and assignments in the course
    • People respond to genuine concern for their well-being
    • Active Learning: I occasionally divide the assigned chapter up among the students, and give everyone 10 minutes to come up with a 1 minute presentation to the class. The students have at least read a few pages, and they talk to each other instead of listening to me
    • When a student engages in course dialogue, I write a note thanking them as their classmates and I enjoyed their participation and how important their questions and comments are to educators and their students. I also include that I hope they continue to share in all courses. This helps encourage participation, especially from those who seldom do
    • Recognize and sustain the “cool” in everyone and challenge the students to move from “pretend cool” to “cool.”
    • Remove fear/anxiety and increase expectations of success by: allowing students to redo/resubmit work or problems for regarding/assessment. They work and learn from their mistakes, but are not punished for their mistakes.
    • Living Concept Maps: During a case study, have the students in groups of 4-5, actively create a concept map as the case study is unfolding—adapting and changing it as new data becomes available. At the end, share the concept maps and see how different/similar they are and explore those.
    • the selection and use of technologies for teaching and learning is driven as much by context and values and beliefs as by hard scientific evidence or rigorous theory
    • There are deep philosophical, technical and pragmatic challenges in trying to provide a model or set of models flexible but practical enough to handle the huge range of factors involved
    • theories and beliefs about education will influence strongly the choice and use of different technologies
    • it is a mistake to focus solely on the educational characteristics of technologies. There are social, organizational, cost and accessibility issues also to be considered
    • what is best done face-to-face and what online, and in what contexts? What is the role of the human teacher, and can/should/will he/she be replaced by technology?

Posted to Diigo 06/25/2010

    • The foundations of any discipline are its definition, knowledge base, terminology, structure, methodology, and epistemology
    • While traditional teaching methods, especially lecture and readings, are quite efficient at “delivering” this kind of information, the question is whether “delivery” is enough
    • there are two essential tasks to foster student achievement: help students see the relevance and importance of the information, and make it understandable
    • the dimensions of teaching that are the strongest correlates of student achievement are: 1) preparation and organization; 2) clarity of communication; 3) perceived outcome of the instruction; and 4) stimulating student interest in the course content
    • Teachers must possess a great deal of different kinds of knowledge:
    • The first is “content knowledge,”
    • The second is “pedagogical content knowledge,” or understanding of pedagogy, teaching and learning, and its application to the discipline
    • Finally is “curricular knowledge,” an enhanced version of the latter where the teacher has a repertoire of strategies, materials, approaches, and alternatives that are called on to help students learn
    • the teacher provides both the organizational structure and the appropriate level of complexity for the students
    • However, structuring and organizing information and activities does not mean exercising complete control over all aspects of the course
    • Incorporate motivational strategies into your teaching, using activities that allow students to find information, to organize it in meaningful ways, or to use it, all have the potential to provide opportunities for success and intrinsic motivation
    • When students passively sit and listen to 50 minutes or more of a lecture, they have little investment in learning except to do it in order to pass a test and get a grade
    • You can exhibit skills that help students to see structure, to relate topics, and to organize information
    • A teacher who says, “This is how we approach a problem in our discipline” or “This is how I would go about answering this question,” is showing students a process that is transferable
    • Even when dealing with knowledge level objectives, a teacher can show students how topics relate to and build on each other
    • Content-heavy courses may not seem to be the right places for instructional methods that have been shown to enhance conceptual learning, but conceptual understanding can often help students make sense of the facts, terms, and organization of the subject
    • When you ask students to organize information or place it in context (and that, in itself, can be a team assignment) you help them to construct more complete knowledge
    • Concept maps (14) are useful at this level because they provide a structural picture of the relationships of information and concepts
    • When the objective is for students to learn basic facts, the assessments you choose should provide direct evidence of knowledge
    • they should also link that knowledge to deeper understanding of the material
    • Courses that most often require students to learn basic information are frequently offered in the first year and in large-enrollment settings
    • Your students probably have little experience with the content and they may not have sophisticated learning skills
    • You cannot wait until mid-semester or later to assess learning
    • When you and your students know what needs attention, both teaching and learning become more efficient
    • assessment with feedback is most beneficial for student learning
    • the objective is not simply to determine right or wrong, but rather to focus on why a given answer is correct and on the process used to arrive at that answer