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Study Effectively

What is a concept map?

  • A graphical way of organizing your thoughts and showing how concepts are related or different.
  • A diagrammed series of "nodes" consisting of linked topics (core concepts) and subtopics (which include examples and evidence for the topics).
  • A series of connections labeled by cause/effect, relationships and inter-relationships, differences, or hierarchies.

What are the benefits of using a concept map?

  • An active learning strategy that helps you to think critically.
  • A good way of learning about how you learn.
  • A one-page representation of important ideas.
  • A method of promoting a richer understanding of knowledge.
  • A way to visualize gaps in knowledge and areas of oversimplification, contradiction or misinterpretation.

When should I use a concept map?

  • Testing your recall by creating a concept map when you are reviewing for exams.
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of complex processes, systems, and relationships.
  • Brainstorming ideas for an assignment or project.
  • Organizing your ideas in a logical format in preparation for an essay or other assignment.
  • Identifying what you don't understand or where you're confused. 
  • Generating questions and answers from a reading or writing assignment.

Video: How to create a concept map

Video: How to Create a Concept Map

Steps to make a concept map

  1. Identify the main topic or core concept. 
  2. Brainstorm everything you already know about the topic.
  3. Organize the information by major ideas or points.
  4. Place the information on a diagram or map. Start with core concept, then major points, then significant details. 
  5. Review course materials and vocabulary to insure everything is included.
  6. Label connecting strands with words or phrases, then use branches, arrows and other symbols (for example stop signs) to indicate the relationship.  
  7. Use colours, fonts or lines to group or distinguish concepts. 
  8. Include detailed explanations, definitions, rules, formulae, or equations.
  9. Analyze the map using the following questions: 
    • Is the core concept accurately defined and positioned?
    • How do the ideas fit together?
    • Have I considered all the related information from lectures, texts, and labs?
    • Have I noted all relevant relationships, exceptions, and conditions?
    • Does the map have adequate validity, logic, complexity, and detail? 
    • What is the muddiest point and what can be done to clarify it?
  10. Revise the map as understanding of the material improves.

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