Activity Types: Concept Maps

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What are Concept Maps?

Although similar to an Idea Map, a concept map is constructed to link two or more concepts together by words that describe their relationship. Dictionary.com defines a concept map as "a type of diagram which shows various relationships between concepts." Concept maps organize, enhance and encourage understanding. They help students learn new information by providing them with opportunities to integrate each new idea into their existing body of knowledge. They are ideal for measuring the growth of student learning. Misdirected links or wrong connections alert educators to what students do not understand.

The Concept Mapping Homepage states that concept maps can be used for these purposes:

  • to generate ideas (brainstorming, etc.);

  • to design a complex structure (long texts, hypermedia, large web sites, etc.);

  • to communicate complex ideas;

  • to aid learning by explicityly integrating new and old knowledge;

  • to assess understanding or diagnose misunderstanding.

There are many different ways to use a concept mapping tool, such as Inspiration or Smart Ideas, to graphically organize concepts or ideas. The Graphic Organizer web site lists four such uses (webbing, concept mapping, matrix, and flowchart) and gives examples as to specific types of maps that can be used to help learners describe, compare/contrast, classify, sequence, make causal connections, or make decisions.

.Advantages for use in the classroom:

  • Individual or small group activity

  • Display concepts and the relationships between them in a visible, structured format

  • Concept maps are easy to create with Inspiration using built-in templates

Examples: (be sure to look at all examples)

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Candace Figg, PhD
Brock University
Faculty of Education, Teacher Education Department
500 Glenridge, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1
(905.688.5550, x5347)


Jenny Burson, EdD
University of Texas at Austin (retired)
Education Department, Curriculum and Instruction
jburson@mail.utexas.edu