Concept Maps - A Learning & Study Strategy

Uploaded by kevintpatton on 02.02.2011

This is Kevin Patton with another study tip for human anatomy and physiology. This time
I'm talking about concept maps. This is a learning and study strategy that's been around
for thousands of years Even though some people claim to have invented it just within the
last few years. All it is, is a a picture or drawing of a concept or different related
concepts in a way that maps it out so that you can understand it. It fits your own learning
style or your own way of thinking. For this reason, concept maps are often called mind
maps. It provides a way to put the ideas together yourself rather than the way the textbook
author or the lab manual author or your instructor or your study partner does it. If you put
it together in a way that makes sense to you, then it's easier to learn. And as you put
together this picture It also helps identify weak areas. Why is that? Because you can’t
complete the picture unless you know where all the parts fit. Now what this does is it
helps us climb up the learning pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is the simple idea
of remembering facts. But as you probably already know, you need to know more than just
the facts. You need to be able to put them together in ways that are useful. And that's
what a concept map does, it helps us put together the facts in ways that show relationships,
and thus help us better understand those deeper meanings, those applications, and the relationships
that allow us to understand the concepts. So here are some examples. This is one you
are probably all familiar with and that is a flowchart. Flowcharts are simply steps in
a process where one thing follows another. You can see in this flowchart that it there
is an invader that comes into the body and there's all kinds of immune system reactions
that happen after that. But by drawing it on your flowchart, we can see what triggers
what. And by looking from side to side, we can see that there are multiple things going
on at one time. And so I think we can take all those isolated facts from the immune system
and start to understand how they work together as a system, when we draw ourselves a map
like this. Another style of concept map would be a circle diagram. Here's a diagram showing
you some of the components of a homeostatic feedback loop. And we see a controlled variable
at the top and we know that that variable is sensed by a sensor, then there's feedback
to an integrator, which then may control an effector, which has an effect on the controlled
variable. So the circle is completed. And in biology in general, certainly in human
biology, there are a lot of different processes that go in a circle like this. And so this
style of a chart or this style concept map would make sense for those concepts. Another
style you might want to use is a tree diagram. This is a tree diagram that incorporates outlines.
So we have the overall idea cellular respiration, so we’ll write that first on our paper.
And then we’ll draw branches of a tree. And, uh, each of the branches of the tree
contains a little mini outline that summarizes the important parts. Now in this particular
case, we’re looking at the anaerobic pathway and the aerobic pathway and comparing and
contrasting them. A very simple idea, but by putting it all on paper then it helps solidify
our understanding of it and the relationship between these two pathways. Another kind of
a tree diagram, just to show you that there are many kinds of trees in the forest, would
be this one here that shows a kind of a sideways tree. We’re again … we’re showing cellular
respiration to begin with. And notice that this time that I've highlighted that level
of the tree with the label “process” so that's telling us what's the overall process
we’re looking at. And then in the next layer of the tree, the next layer branching, I identify
that as two pathways, and then specifically listed one in each branch. And then in the
third box over to the far right there I labeled that area or that level of the tree “characteristics.”
we see all the little branches there would be those characteristics that in the previous
diagram had been shown as part of an outline but here they're showing a separate branches.
Again, this can get to be a lot more complex as you add information during your learning,
but I'm showing you very simplified concept maps just to kinda get you started. Yet another
version of a tree diagram would be this one that's almost exactly like the previous one,
except that I’ve flipped it around so that it’s an upside down tree. So my point here
is, is that you can draw these any way you want. You can draw ‘em from top to bottom,
from side to side, from bottom to top, and so on. It just depends what makes sense to
you. And you can add to it, maybe even start go up and then tilt sideways as you need more
room and add more concepts. Another style of a concept map would be a spoke diagram,
sometimes called a radial diagram. And this is where you would put the central idea, well,
in the center. And then you would add spokes. Now here I've only added three spokes. You
can imagine that you would add spokes going all the way around in 360° and then each
of those spokes could have their own spokes that go out in a circle, and then each of
those spokes could have another spoke. So again, you can add many layers of complexity
here depending on what you want to do with this and how much information there is that
you want to put into one diagram. Now, as you are doing your concept maps, it’s not
a bad idea to add sketches. And you know I’m not the best artist in the world and yet I
can still draw little stick diagrams and squares and circles and so on. My squares not, uh,
may not be exactly square and my circles and may not be perfectly round but you know it
works good enough because the whole idea is to go through the process of making the concept
map, because by doing that we’re pulling out the relationships and seeing how they
are. Now when we're finished with the concept map, we do have a reference that we can go
back to and review and study and maybe even add to. But really, most of the learning is
in putting it together in the first place. Now that doesn't mean you want to throw it
away when you're done, because we certainly do want to use as a reference. But the goal
is not future reference. The goal is to put it together. And by putting it together, you
learn relationships. So if you're looking for ideas on how to do a concept map on a
particular concept that maybe you're struggling with, there are some ideas that you can get
from places that you already have available to you. For example, your textbook I'm sure
is full of different styles of concept maps, concept maps on different topics, and so on.
And so take a look there. And there's nothing wrong with just you making your own version
of a diagram that's already in the book. Your lab manual will also have concept maps in
it. Your instructor may give you handouts or other resources, or you can go ask them
to get you started and give you some ideas. Your learning center tutors or other tutors
you might have available will help get you started, might have some examples for you
to look at or could, you know, really help you walk through your first few concept maps
so you get the idea of how to do it. Do this with other students. That's one of the best
ways to learn, is to get together in your study group and figure out ,okay we need a
concept map on this topic or that topic, how we gonna do it, and throw around some ideas
and fine-tune them and do it is a group project. Or another option would be look on the web.
There are a lot of people that have posted their own concept maps. Or at least you can
look and see what kinds of diagrams there are out there on particular topics and that
might help give you the idea for doing your own. Now, there are lots of tools you can
use to make this whole process of making a concept map easier and also more effective.
Because after all that's the goal, right, is to be effective. So for simple drawings
just using a pen and paper, now I recommend trying to get a stack of that larger paper,
you can get this it at your copy center probably, your school bookstore, something like that,
would have 11 x 17" paper, or maybe legal size paper, which isn't quite as big but it's
bigger than your standard size paper. The bigger the paper you start with, the more
room you have. And you can always fold it up like a map. I know some people that use
some wrapping paper or butcher paper something like that, and just pull it out in a big long
roll. And draw it, then fold it up in a little piece like a roadmap. And then stick it in
their folder. I recommend that you use lots of colors and maybe different kinds of drawing
tools. You can use highlighters to color-code different areas or different processes. Use
colored pencils or colored markers to highlight different things. And then you’ll want to
also think about cutting and pasting from your textbook. You can photocopy or scan things
from your textbook and paste it into your concept map. And that would, I think, be considered
fair use because you're using it for your own personal purposes, and you’ve already
purchased the book, right? You can also go on the web and try to find some web images
that might be useful, and print those out, and then cut and paste those into your concept
map. also. There also are different bits of software that you can get. Just a couple of
them are mentioned here: FreeMind and Webspiration. These are things you can either download or
operate fully on the web. On my website, which I give you the URL for later, I have a whole
list of the different mind mapping software, including online versions you don't have to
download and install. So you might want to try playing around with some of those. Some
of those might work out very well for you. What I used for a lot of the images that you
see in this presentation are the tools already built into Microsoft Office. They are called
Smart Art tools. And as a matter of fact, with those you can type in all your information
and then just select a different formats and it’ll automatically convert the information
you’ve already typed in into a radial and then switch it to a tree diagram, and switch
it from that to maybe a flowchart diagram, and so on. So a lot of these software computer
tools are really easy to use and give you a lot of flexibility for the style and format
and even colors. So if you want to learn more about how to use concept maps, and for more
links and so on, go to the URL at the top of the screen. And just for general study
tips you can always visit me at