Concept Mapping

Introduction to Concept Mapping

Used as an analysis, learning and teaching technique, a concept map visually illustrates the relationships between concepts and ideas.

Often represented in circles or boxes, concepts are linked by words and phrases that explain the connection between the ideas, helping users to organize and structure their thoughts, further understanding and discover new relationships. Most concept maps represent a hierarchical structure, with the broad concepts first and more specific concepts connected as sub-topics.

Concept Map Example

Concept map example - DNA

What is a Concept Map?

A concept map is a type of graphic organizer that helps users organize and represent knowledge of a subject. Concept maps begin with a main idea (or concept) and then branch out to show how that main idea can be broken down into specific topics.

Benefits of Concept Mapping

The purpose of concept mapping is to:

  • Help users brainstorm and generate new ideas
  • Encourage users to discover new concepts and the propositions that connect them
  • Allow users to clearly communicate ideas, thoughts and information
  • Help users integrate new concepts with existing concepts
  • Enable users to gain enhanced knowledge of any topic and evaluate the information

How to Build a Concept Map - 4-Step Guide

Concept maps are typically hierarchical, with the subordinate concepts stemming from the main concept or idea. This type of graphic organizer however, always allows change and new concepts to be added. Concept positions on a map can continuously change, while always maintaining the same relationship with the other ideas on the map.

  • Start with a main idea, topic, or issue to focus on - A helpful way to determine the context of your concept map is to choose a focus question—something that needs to be solved or a conclusion that needs to be reached. Once a topic or question is decided, that will help with the hierarchical structure of the concept map.
  • Then determine the key concepts - Find the key concepts that connect and relate to your main idea and rank them; most general, inclusive concepts come first, then link to smaller, more specific concepts.
  • Connect concepts - Create links to connect concepts and demonstrate relationships. Once the basic links between the concepts are created, add cross-links, which connect concepts in different areas of the map, to further illustrate the relationships and strengthen understanding and knowledge on the topic.
  • Label links - Add linking words or phrases that illustrate the relationship between the two concepts.

Find out more about creating concept maps here.

Concept Maps in Education

When created correctly and thoroughly, concept mapping is a powerful way for users to reach high levels of cognitive performance. A concept map is also not just a learning tool, but an ideal evaluation tool for educators measuring the growth of and assessing student learning. As a student creates a concept map, they reiterate ideas using their own words. Educators are then able to see what students do not understand, providing an accurate, objective way to evaluate concepts students do not yet fully grasp.

Find out more about the features and benefits of Inspiration here.

Watch our concept map explainer video here.

To read our article on the theory behind concept mapping, click here.

Read our blog article on how you can introduce concept mapping into the classroom to nurture deeper learning. Click here.