Advantages of Concept Mapping

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Concept mapping offers many benefits for both presenters and those learning new information. It can be used to illustrate any type of system, from a plan for a city neighborhood to how an ecosystem functions. Often, it's used for proposing a new program or plan, but it's also useful for understanding a problem within a current system and creating a solution.

1 Aids in Creating a Presentation

Concept mapping can help someone creating a presentation to organize it in a logical format. By nature, concept maps are logical and stress brevity as well as organization. By imposing this structure on presenters, they serve as a guide for creating concise, logical presentations. In some cases, a presenter may even create a concept map as a means of structuring his presentation notes, even if he isn't displaying the concept map during the presentation. Additionally, programs like the Cmap Tools Software Kit make creating a concept map even easier, since thry aid in creating the framework for a concept map and integrating images, videos, links, and other media, say Joseph D. Novak and Alberto J. Cañas in "The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them."

2 Allows for Quick Interpretation

With a concept map, people can often grasp ideas much more quickly than by reading them in an article or book. This visual mode of presenting information makes it easily comprehensible in a short time. People can easily skim through a concept map for a quick understanding of the entire system, because of its brevity and highlighting of key points. This can be extremely useful in many contexts, such as a business meeting, where people must consider the benefits of new plans in a short amount of time.

3 Illustrates the Hierarchy of Ideas

A concept map helps people to understand the hierarchy of ideas, understanding how each component relates to the others. As Novak and Cañas say, concept maps are usually read from the top down, beginning with the most general information and progressing to smaller details. They also display cross-links between different components.

4 Aides in Visualizing Outcomes

It can also help people to understand the possible indirect results of an action or program. Since cross-links show concepts are related, they clarify how one may affect another. This aids in making judgments about the overall benefits of a plan, or better understanding what needs to be done to remedy a situation such as environmental pollution.

5 Evaluation

Concept maps can be used as an assessment tool in school settings, too, say Novak and Cañas. After studying a unit, students could be asked to create a concept map as homework or in lieu of a standard test. It can help to illustrate their knowledge of a subject more thoroughly than multiple choice tests may, while also reinforcing what they know, making the test itself a learning experience.

Melanie J. Martin specializes in environmental issues and sustainable living. Her work has appeared in venues such as the Environmental News Network, "Ocean" magazine and "GREEN Retailer." Martin holds a Master of Arts in English.