What’s a Concept Map?• It’s a visual representation of the relations among conceptswithin a particular subject area.• A map consists of labeled nodes, each representing a concept,and labeled directional lines between pairs of nodes,indicating the relation between them.• Each pair of nodes and directional line expresses aproposition.• The nodes are arranged hierarchically on the map, with themost general concepts appearing at the top.
Building a Concept Map• First, choose a general topic.• Second, begin to brainstorm concepts associated with thattopic. Select 10 concepts, expressed as single words or veryshort phrases.• Third, arrange students into pairs, and have each pair build aconcept map of those 10 concepts.
Rules• Each concept must occupy one node.• Each node must be connected to at least one other node, via adirectional line.• Each directional line must be labeled, such that one can read acomplete declarative sentence by starting at a node, followingthe line, and ending at another node (Warning: this mayrequire some awkward phrasing!)• The nodes should occupy levels – those appearing at the topof the map should represent the most general concepts.Those at the bottom, the most specific.• You may add new concepts as you like.• There is no limit as to how many directional lines you draw(but keep it legible!)
Why Use Concept Maps?• They visually represent a student’s broad understanding of asubject area.• They are an excellent supplement to traditional means ofmeasuring student understanding, such as tests and papers.• They are revisable.• They are interactive and collaborative.
Tips• I tend to emphasize that there is no one exactly perfectconcept map.• However, you can make your concept maps better withpractice and understanding.• You can connect them to course readings – finding places inthe reading that justifies a particular connection on your map.• Collaboration is welcome.
Assignments• Three concept maps, over the course of the semester• Initially, I gave them all 10 concepts to build their maps.• Each successive assignment I reduces the number I providedby 2, and they had to fill in their own, so I supplied 8 conceptsfor the second assignment, then 6 for the third.• Each assignment required at least 10 concepts, and they werewelcome to add more.