How to Make a Concept Map in 2023

Published On: November 20th, 2022·By ·

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A concept map is one of the best learning aids for students to help organize their thoughts. In this article, learn how to make a concept map in 6 steps. 

What is a concept map?

Before delving into how to make a concept map, you may be wondering “what is a concept map”? A concept map is a diagram or visual representation of thoughts and information. These can be depicted through Venn diagrams, flow charts, tables, and more. Concept maps are typically used for people who are visual learners, but all people can benefit from them. They are helpful study tools and allow individuals to depict information in a different way. 

Additionally, a concept map allows individuals to see higher-level concepts and make categories and connections between the information they are looking at. 

The purpose of a concept map 

The purpose of a concept map is to think about information differently and to see it represented in a visual manner. It allows individuals to see higher-level concepts, as well as, details in what they are looking at. When using a concept map, you are able to make categories and connections with the information you are delving deeper into. It is important for students because it allows them to identify key concepts and see how the concepts are related to one another. It helps ensure that students are properly understanding and digesting course material. 

What should a concept map include?

A concept map should include a main topic and subtopics that can be connected to the main topic through lines and words. Below is a list of the elements needed in a concept map to make it most effective for learning: 

  • Main Topic – There should be a main topic, idea, or question that you center the concept map around. This will be the focal point that subtopics and connecting lines branch off of. 
  • Subtopics – Categorizing your thoughts into subtopics will help add color to the concept map. This is typically in the form of concepts that make up or relate to the main topic in some way.
  • Connecting lines – You can use connecting lines as a way to show what subtopics make up a larger topic, or to connect to smaller details that you want to mention.
  • Linking Words – rather than using connecting lines, linking words may help an individual detail the relationship between main topics or questions and subtopics.

How to make a concept map 

Now that you understand what makes up a concept map and what its purpose is, you can dive into how to make a concept map. Below is a list of 6 steps that outline how to make a concept map in detail: 

1.  Identify a Focus Question

The first place to start is the main topic or focus question. This is what the concept map will be built around. The concept map will be used to better understand this main topic or to solve the question posed. 

2. Write Down Related Topics and Ideas 

Once you have the main topic, think about different subtopics that can branch off underneath. Ask yourself what makes up the main topic and how smaller details can fit into the bigger picture. 

3. Decide on Medium for Concept Mapping

Once you have the bulk of the content, decide on a medium in which you want to design your concept map. You can do it on paper, on a whiteboard, or digitally. 

4.  Draw Your Concept Map 

After you have identified your medium, it’s time to draw your concept map! Start with your focus question or main subject. Draw this at the top of your map. Working your way to the left and right, as well as vertically down, write your smaller subtopics and related ideas. 

5. Link Together Ideas with Lines or Words

When your subtopics and details have been placed underneath the main idea or focus question, you can link them together with lines or words. Using words like “makes up,”  “contains,”  “works to,” and more, helps define the relationships between the main topic and the subtopics. Using lines helps to visually represent how they are linked. 

6. Overview and Edit as Needed

After you have completed your concept map, make sure you review it and understand what it is saying. You may need to make edits or changes so that it is clear what it is trying to convey. 

Example of a concept map 

As you can see, this concept map has a main topic, subtopics, connecting words, and connecting lines. In this case, the main topic is Cells, and the subtopics are split into a variety of categories. The map splits up the cells into two categories, and then within these categories it is outlined what the cells are made up of. Even further down the map, the creator describes the function of the parts of the cells. This map is very comprehensive and easily breaks down a complex biology topic to make it easier to understand and digest. 

The benefits of making a concept map 

There are many benefits of making a concept map. Below are 5 key benefits of making a concept map and why it’s important for students to create them: 

Helps students visualize topics and relationships

By breaking down main topics and focus questions, students are able to better understand the details. If someone were to look at your concept map, they should be able to understand exactly what is going on. This is a great tactic for those who are more visual learners. 

Breaks out important information into categories

Sometimes information and topics can be hard to understand. This can especially be the case if you are studying for an exam. Having complex concepts broken down can help individuals succeed in the classroom. 

Promotes efficient study habits 

Similar to the above benefit, concept maps help to promote efficient study habits. This is because complex ideas can be broken down into a more easily understandable way. If students are able to understand these ideas, they can visualize the map in their minds and retain important information. 

Gives students the ability to store topics in a dynamic way

When using concept maps as a study tool, students may want to link out different resources if the map is digital. This can let students dive deeper into the content and store a digital library of tools in the map. It can be a different way to engage with the material which will promote learning across various platforms. 

Allows students to effectively problem solve

Concept maps are a great tool for solving the main focus question. Not only are students able to break down the different parts of a question, but they can use the map to flesh out every subtopic. By doing this, the answer to whatever question that was posed will likely become clear over time. 

When should students use concept maps 

Students should use concept maps when trying to retain certain information or understand a more complex subject. Concept maps can be effective study tools, as well as, dynamic information libraries. Concept map can be used for almost all studying and for organizing thoughts. 

Common Subjects that Use Concept maps 

Some subjects may be better for concept maps than others. Below is a list of subjects that utilize concept maps to promote understanding of such topics:

  • Nursing
  • Biology 
  • General Science 
  • English/Creative Writing
  • Math
  • Geography
  • History

In conclusion, concept map making is super helpful for students trying to understand a more complex topic. It helps them organize thoughts, create effective studying tools, and so much more that individuals can benefit from. 

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