Concept Mapping

Concept mapping is used to organize related information in a visual manner. Study maps clearly and concisely demonstrate hierarchical relationships among the topic, main ideas, and supporting details or pertinent course material.

Mapping is a way of picturing course content that enhances retrievability of the information on a test. Maps are useful because they reduce large amounts of information.

Mapping helps you to learn actively. The maps are highly individualized, representing information in a unique and personal way. Structuring the map allows you to see interrelationships in the information.

When to map:

  •  When a course can be organized by topics or concepts.
  • When knowing a structure, system, operation process, or sequence of events is integral to understanding course material.
  • When summarizing, outlining, or otherwise reducing content for an exam.

How to map:

  1. Select a topic/concept on the basis of significance to the course.
  2. Decide on how to categorize the information: Does something take place over time? Can an idea be broken down neatly into constituent parts? Is there a hierarchical relationship among the elements of the topic or concept?
  3. Write each main idea, major heading, or term on a separate, small slip of paper or index card. Divide these into piles under major divisions.
  4. Move the card or papers around until the map is accurate and you have decided the appropriate position for each card. You may find yourself adding or discarding cards.
  5. If steps 3 and 4 are too burdensome, simply concept as you go along.

Concept Mapping PDF


Holschuh, J. and Nist, S. (2000). Active learning: Strategies for college success. Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.


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