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For mapping approaches to summarizing and argument, graphics software and mapping software in general are preferable to pencil and paper because of ease of revision and restructuring. Among those software, Cmap Tools freeware has the further distinct advantage that it forces the user to specify the relations between links and thus reveals rhetorical structure or orchestration (or their absence) that is not visually apparent in text. Cmaps are Novakian maps, i.e. each link between two nodes is labeled with a phrase specifying the relation between those nodes. If we strengthen Novakian maps with several visual metaphors (e.g. up is abstract, down is concrete; up is overarching, down is subordinate) we get an even more compressed representation. This presents an altogether more powerful representation than that offered by mind maps.
Grounded on a case study of a fruitful application of Cmap Tools, wherein EAP learners of academic writing for management discover intellectual leverage in argument mapping, this paper argues that Cmap Tools deserves a place amongst the essential tools for instructional discourse, particularly in settings such as EAP where the identification of rhetorical orchestration is difficult, where argument is often masked by other rhetorical devices, and where one's own thinking about an approach to a problem is complex and difficult to encode directly in text.
To tentatively support its claims, this paper tracks EAP (English for Academic Purposes) learners' cycling between discourse analysis and concept mapping as they worked to unpack a paper that they had initially identified as a 'good model'.