What is concept mapping?
Concept mapping is a technique which is used in teaching, training, learning and delivery of information processes in order to help in visually illustrations of the relationships and linkages between different ideas and concepts. This technique often makes use of concept maps in which there is a graphic representation of ideas. Basically, concept mapping is aimed at organizing, structuring and representing knowledge in an easy to follow and structural manner. It helps people to organize and understand basic learning concepts more easily and even enables them to explain them in a more comprehendible manner.
In most cases the main concepts and ideas are usually placed in boxes or circles. These are linked using phrases and words which explain the connection between each concept and idea. The concept maps more often than not are represented in a hierarchical structure and the main or overall concepts are placed at the top of the chart while the more specific concepts follow below. Generally, the broad concept is always at the top of the chart and the breakdown of this concept is done below in a more specific approach.
How is concept mapping done?
In order to carry out concept mapping, you must design a concept map. This should always be based on a main broad idea with sub-topics and specific ideas that are connected or linked to it. There are four main steps of carrying out concept mapping:
- Choose the main idea or topic of focus. This is the most important step in concept mapping. The main idea or concept should be broad and objective. This topic should enable one to answer certain questions or solve a particular problem.
- Determine the key concepts linked to this idea. Once a topic of focus has been selected, there is need to come up with smaller and more specific sub topics. These should be relevant to the main topic and in some way help to answer the question at hand or solve the problem being looked into.
- Connect the concepts to the main idea. After identification of the specific subtopics, it is important to identify the inter linkages between them and the main or basic concept. This connection should then be infused into the concept map by drawing maps and using short words or phrases that explain the linkages.
- Make any necessary alterations. One of the advantages of concept mapping is that it allows for alteration between the concepts. Although one can still retain the same relationship that has been established, it is important to re-examine the connection between the ideas and make any necessary changes.
Concept mapping can be done manually if there are a few ideas and concepts involved. However, if there is a bigger data set involved, this process is done using special software.
What are the benefits of concept mapping?
Concept mapping is used in both educational systems and even in the business and human resources disciplines. There are several benefits of using this method in trainings and teaching:
- It can help to summarize key concepts and enable learners and participants understand different linkages to the main concepts.
- This method can be used in communicating complex ideas
- Concept maps are a good and cost effective in preserving an organization’s information
- Business concept mapping can be used in business analysis activities.
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