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A GOOD CONCEPT MAP
A good concept map can be a very powerful tool for learning
Learning can occur along two continuums: active vs. passive and memorization vs. meaningful discovery.
Consider how you learned capitals of states in middle school, versus how you learned to drive a car. Which
are you better at? Why? Passive memorization produces minimal retention. Purposeful and active learning
produces the best retention and ability to use it in future situations.
A good concept map will help you learn-not because the map itself is the end goals, but the process of
making it helps the brain do what it normally does best: create connections between ideas, and encode
information in a way that can be retrieved weeks to years later.
A good concept map:
1. Is organized by color, layout, grouping, etc… so that it is easy to tell which parts of the map are
related, and the map is easy to understand and navigate.
2. Is based on conceptual relationships that are clear and make sense
3. Is concise enough to see ideas grouped together, not so spread out that you must scroll across your
map to see connected ideas
4. Connects ideas logically so that the branches that come from main ideas are logical, sub-ideas that
expand on or relate to that main idea
5. May use linking terms and phrases (such as “is demonstrated by” or “is defined as” to clearly tie
one part of the map to the next
6. Is hierarchical, so that map elements at each level (based on number of steps from the starting point)
are at roughly the same level of detail
7. Connects new information to what is already known, by including references to previously learned
facts and concepts
8. Extends knowledge so that the map illustrates new ideas and relationships
9. Includes examples that help clarify concepts
10. Includes definitions of important terms
11. Provides references to source material (text, papers, figures, diagrams, etc…)
12. Serves the intended purpose, which may be to summarize a lot of complex information, describe
chronological events, give a set of instructions, illustrate a problem solving strategy, etc…
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