Concept- or mind-mapping for learning

By: Joe Landsberger

Many of us have learned to outline information
in our studies, as:

  1. First item
  2. Second item
    1. sub item
    2. sub item
      1. sub sub item
      2. sub sub item
  3. Third item

Alternatives to outlining are Mind- and Concept-Mapping.

How do I map?
First reject the idea of an outline, or of paragraphs using sentences.

Think in terms of key words or symbols
that represent ideas and words.

You will need:

  • a pencil (you’ll be erasing!) and a blank (non-lined) big piece of paper
  • a blackboard and (colored) chalk
  • “post-it” notes

Write down the most important word or short phrase
or symbol for the center.

Think about it; circle it.

Post other important concepts
and their words outside the circle

Edit this first phase
Think about the relation of outside items to the center item
Erase, edit, and/or shorten words to key ideas
Relocate important items closer to each other for better organization
If possible, use color to organize information
Link concepts with words to clarify their relationships


Continue working outward
Freely and quickly add other key words and ideas (you can always erase!)
Think weird: combine concepts to expand your map or; break boundaries
Develop in directions the topic takes you–not limited by how you are doing the map
As you expand your map, tend to become more specific or detailed


Set the map aside
Later, continue development and revision
Stop and think about relationships you are developing
Expand the map over time (right up to an exam if necessary!)

This map is your personal learning document
It combines what you knew with what you are learning
and what you may need to complete your “picture

Note the descriptive links for the arrows
for “evapotranspiration” and “condensation”

Source: Study Guides and Strategies