Concept Mapping

"The faster and more effective ROUTE"

Concept map (noun):

a type of diagram which shows various relationships between concepts

  • Alright, maybe concept mapping isn't so black and white, but much more structured. It gives you a method that takes a topic or interest and produces a pictorial view (map) to show the relation of the "concepts" and ideas.

  • Now that we have the fun part of actually putting an idea to the name we can break down concept mapping so we can all get back to what we really want to be doing, STUDYING!!! Okay, maybe that is a little untrue, however studying is a fact of life and that is definitely true. At this point in the 21st century we are hoping that by playing Mozart to our unborn fetuses we will produce geniuses.

  • Basically from the time we could probably all remember school, studying, and being intelligent (of some sorts) has been drilled into our mind. I'd like to think that school came easy to me, well now I'm 25, a mother, and everything else anyone needs to be, so I can barely remember what day it is. With that I offer you Concept Mapping, created by Joseph Novak and a team at Cornell University in the 1970s.

Stages Of Concept Mapping

6 Easy Stages

Stage 1- Preperation

In stage 1 you are basically determining who is part of your group ( if any), what role they will play, the focus of the project/concept, and what exactly you/group is trying to map out. What I mean by that, is are you trying to start with an idea and produce a result? Are you trying to define a particular concept?

  • Determine group members
  • Agree on concept
  • Establish plan

Stage 2 - Generation

This is your brainstorming stage. This is where you/group create a large set of statements. In larger groups you could create focus groups, however if this is a solo concept map, good ol' brainstorming will do just fine.

Stage 3 - Structuring

You do two things in this stage. You sort and rate. This is where you realize what is important and what really isn't going to help you. You want to separate them by similarity first. A lot of times when brainstorming you will come up with a similar idea and just rephrase it. Eliminate the weaker ideas as soon as you realize the similarity to another. Once you do that, rate the ideas to minimize. Remember you are looking for an easier way to study, not every supporting idea is necessary.

1. Sort

2. Rate

Stage 4 - Representation

This is where you put your brain to the test and really analyze your information. This is where you are going to take the ideas and "represent" them in a map form. You want to be strategic and there are two analyses used.

  • Multidimensional scaling- sorts out all statements and makes them a point on the map by scale.

  • Cluster Analysis- this is where you will partition the map into clusters of statements or ideas. You want to use your logic to avoid wasted time. Obviously cluster the ideas that blend with one another to create a logical concept.

Stage 5 - Interpretation

Once all ideas/statements are plotted create labels and interpretations of the map.

You want to create a smooth transitional map so keep that in mind.

Stage 6 - Utilization

Now...this is where you use the map!!! Obviously that is all of our end result, however once a skilled "concept mapper" these maps can be used on very large scales. This can be used as visual framework, but also helps maintain the original focus of the concept map. This will assist in developing solutions, recognizing problems, and even displaying results (if necessary).


Benefits of Concept Mapping

  • Helps assist in generating new ideas
  • Encourages to connect ideas/concepts with consequence/benefit
  • Assists in communicating ideas
  • Helping with showing a correlation between new/old concepts
  • #1 knowledge gained

Since we all love YouTube....

Since we all love the tube and this is about visual learning, here is a little video to wrap everything up for you. Many people will argue that concept mapping is much more scientific than a few stages and pictures, they might be right. However, the fact of the matter is we are all trying to manage everyday life, we need to make things simpler and easier for us. After all there are so many other things we could be doing, like watching non-concept mapping videos on YouTube ;).
Concept Mapping as a Tool for Group Problem Solving


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Concept Mapping. (2014, November 10). Retrieved from

How to use a Concept Map to organize and comprehend information | (2014, November 9). Retrieved from

Study Skills | - When you hit the books - and they hit back. (2014, November 9). Retrieved from

Thinking tools. (2014, November 11). Retrieved from