New Learning Strategies: Concept Mapping

By: Bertha Garcia

Concept mapping consists of the visual organization of relationships between concepts and facts. The students are encouraged to develop as many as possible connections between the concepts learned, cross-linking indicating a higher level of integration.

Concepts maps have the following advantages: they facilitate active and effective reading, they help with indexing of related concepts, the aid long term memory and they are a very good example of active learning because the process includes decision making. For this method to be effective, individual students need to develop their own concept maps as they review daily the material learned and as they study for evaluation.

MyoGlobin Concept Map
MyoGlobin Concept Map

Back to our case study: Student X was introduced to concept mapping 3 days before second quarter exam. These are the marks in the remaining pathology exams: quarter 2: 60%, quarter 3: 72% and quarter 4: 84%. Mr. X is a typical example of outcomes of this type of intervention when used during academic counselling.
In the fall of 2002, I thought that I had enough evidence to share this approach in learning with the whole class. During the first 6 weeks of class of the first quarter in Medicine, year one, I began to have concept map sessions at the end of each week with the whole class. The outcome of this intervention has been two fold: the student’s performance at exams improved significantly while the stress level of the students decreased.

Other strategies that I use in conjunction with concept mapping for S students with academic difficulties is the use of question analysis and the encouragement to joint study groups for at least a portion of their study time, the idea being that S types adopt N thinking when they hear it.

Concept maps: a strategy to teach and evaluate critical thinking. Daley BJ et al, J Nurse Education 1999 Jan; 38(1):42-7

Critical thinking in graduate medical education: A role for concept mapping assessment? West DC et al. JAMA 2000,
Sep 6; 284(9):1105-10
Using “concept sorting” to study learning processes and outcomes. McLaughlin K, Mandin H. Academic Med 2002 Aug; 77(8):831-6

Concept mapping assessment in medical education: a comparison of two scoring systems. West DC et al. Medical Education 2002 Sep; 36(9):820-6

Success types approach to Academic Success. Pelley, John W. Texas Tech University H Sc C,

Source: University of Ottawa

Sur comments: Please note, in the concept map diagram there are more than one main topics (Myoglobin and Hemoglobin) compare with the mind map with only one main topic.