How to Use Concept Maps for Studying and Organizing Information

Of all the various learning styles visual learning is the most popular one. Various studies put it somewhere between 45% and 65%. This is understandable because humans process visuals faster than text or audio. They are also more likely to recall something they saw rather than something they heard. However, studying is more than processing things and recalling them. You need to understand the concepts and how to apply those concepts to solve real-world problems. This is why concept maps are so powerful and frequently used for studying as well as teaching. Below are some benefits of using concept maps for studying.

Improve your understanding of the topic

As I mentioned before you study to get a deeper understanding of a topic or a concept. Your understanding of subject increase when you connect the new things you learn with what you already know about that subject.

When you draw a concept map you’re actively looking for relationships between different concepts. You add the new ideas and see how they relate to what you already know about a subject. Because you are naming those relationships you need to dig deeper to understand the actual relationship between those concepts. These actions inevitably force you to get a deeper understanding of the subject.

Helps you to validate your knowledge

Most of us overestimate our understanding of things. It’s natural to feel this way for various reasons including familiarity. For example, you might clearly understand some parts of a subject leading you to believe you understand the subject as a whole.

When you draw a concept map you’re actually creating a visual image of that subject. A visual that you can analyze to check your understanding of a subject. If some relationships seem odd or you can’t figure out why you named it that way then you probably don’t understand the subject as well as you think you do.

Plus it makes it easier to get feedback from your teachers and peers. You can’t ask for help when you don’t know whether you understood a topic or not. By showing a concept map other can easily see what you understood and whether you understood them properly. This will enable them to give valuable feedback to improve your knowledge.

Helps you remember/recall things faster

Exams are the moment when you need to use all you’ve learned and understood. And if you’ve gone through your study material and created concept maps then exams shouldn’t be a problem for you. However, in pressure situations, it isn’t as simple as that.

Almost all of us have gone through exams where we have a fleeting memory of something but can’t really recall the whole thing. Well, it’s much easier to recall a graphic than a whole paragraph or a chapter from a textbook.

Recalling and processing images is infinitely easier than paragraphs. But, it’s important to remember that although images are easier to process they don’t necessarily improve the understanding of knowledge. Concept maps are superior in that sense because not only they improve processing of facts but also understanding of facts.

How to draw a concept map

Now that you understand the benefit of using concept maps for studying it’s time to create one. The easiest choice is to use a pen and paper. However, it will get ugly when you start to edit and expand it. You can’t easily access it every time unless you carry it wherever you go. And you can’t share it unless you actually give the paper to someone. It’s much more productive to use a web-based concept mapping tool.

Creately’s concept map maker is easy to use and has many templates to get you started. You can share your concept map with peers and get feedback in real-time. Plus the mobile app gives you access to your concept maps anywhere you go. On top of that, you can use it to draw various other diagrams like flowcharts, UML diagrams, SWOT diagrams, Venn diagrams and mind maps.

A sample concept map

How a concept map will look like

How do you use concept maps for studying?

I hope I’ve convinced you to use concept maps for studying. It has proven to bring great results, especially for visual learners. What other techniques do you use for studying? I’m especially interested in visual methods.

Author Bio: My name is Mark Clain. I support the effective adoption of new technologies or ways of working within writing by communicating complex information in an informative and inspiring way. My texts are varied – some of them are technical, requiring in-depth instruction, others are educational on I’m fond of writing articles for students, helping with essays.

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  1. Mike Marko

    Very helpful, its true by making a concept map totally helps you at work.

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