Concept Mapping

Concept Mapping


What are Concept Maps?

A concept map is a diagram used to explore a topic or problem and gathering and sharing information. Concept mapping is the strategy employed to develop a concept map. A concept map consists of nodes or cells that contain a concept, item or question and links. The links are labeled and denote direction with an arrow symbol. The labeled links explain the relationship between the nodes. The arrow describes the direction of the relationship and reads like a sentence.

What is its purpose?

Concepts maps can be used to by the faculty member to:

  • Examine students’ understanding of a body of knowledge.
  • Help the you to ask students questions about the relationships they identify.
  • After students update their maps periodically, you can examine how and if the map changes over time. This gives you insights about how students are thinking about a problem.
  • Inform you about the new knowledge and information gained or not gained.

Directions to build a concept map:

  1. Select
    • Focus on a theme or problem and then identify related key words or phrases.
  2. Rank
    • Rank the concepts (key words) from the most abstract and inclusive to the most concrete and specific.
  3. Cluster
    • Cluster concepts that function at similar level of abstraction and those that interrelate closely.
  4. Arrange
    • Arrange concepts in to a diagrammatic representation.
  5. Link and add proposition
    • Link concepts with linking lines and label each line with a proposition.

Critical Questions:

  • What is the central word, concept, research question or problem around which to build the map?
  • What are the concepts, items, descriptive words or telling questions that you can associate with the concept, topic, research question or problem?


  • Use a top down approach, working from general to specific or use a free association approach by brainstorming nodes and then develop links and relationships.
  • Use different colors and shapes for nodes & links to identify different types of information.
  • Use different colored nodes to identify prior and new information.
  • Use a cloud node to identify a question.
  • Gather information to a question in the question node.

Teacher Resources

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