A concept map is a method for graphically representing ideas and their relationships. Concept maps can aid visual thinkers in grasping complex ideas. They can help individuals or groups capture data from brainstorming sessions, and they can be used to deepen or test students' comprehension of a subject.
Because science topics often require an understanding of how disparate ideas are related, concept maps are particularly useful tools for teaching and understanding science.
Things You'll Need
- Dry erase marker
- Dry erase board
- Graphical map software
Centered near the top of your work area, write the subject you are mapping. For example, if you want to create a concept map on the sun, write "The Sun." Draw a circle or a box around your subject.
In the area just below the main concept, write several other concepts related to it. For example, some concepts related to "The Sun" might be "light," "mass" and "star." Circle or box each of these concepts as well.
Draw lines from the primary idea to the related concepts beneath it.
Label your lines with verbs. For example: The Sun -- emits --> Light. The Sun--has-->Mass. The Sun -- is a-->star.
For each of your sub ideas, you can write related concepts. For example, you might place several types of stars beneath the subject of "Star" ("White Dwarf," "Yellow Star," "Red Giant"). Again, circle or box each concept and connect the concepts to their parent concept with labeled lines.
Continue expanding ideas until you've branched everything as far as you wish.
Look over the concepts you have mapped. You can draw dotted lines to indicate other relationships between concepts. For example, because the sun is a yellow star, you could draw a dotted line directly from "Yellow Star" to "The Sun."
Move concepts around until your relationships make the most sense.
Tips & Warnings
- Concept maps can include more than just words. You can include photos, drawings, formulas or anything related to your concept that you can contain within your map.
- The concept map described above is a hierarchical map, which is probably the most common type. Other types of concept maps include webs, which have no clear central idea, or narrative maps (also called "flow charts"), which show the chronological relationship between concepts.
- You can use software to make concept mapping easier and more readable. Most word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, include drawing tools you can use to make concept maps. Desktop publishing software, such as Microsoft Publisher, includes even more tools. You can also download and install dedicated concept mapping software such as Cmap.
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