Information about the generation and usage of concept mapping in life, teaching, and research.

Theory edit

Definition edit

"Concept maps are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type, and relationships between concepts indicated by a connecting line linking two concepts. Words on the line, referred to as linking words or linking phrases, specify the relationship between the two concepts. We define concept as a perceived regularity in events or objects, or records of events or objects, designated by a label.

Novak & Canas, 2008, p. 1[1]

Pros & cons edit

Pros edit

  1. Visual (e.g., a picture can say a 1000 words)

Cons edit

  1. More difficult to edit than text or tables

Concept mapping vs. mind mapping edit

Although concept mapping and mind mapping are often treated as synonymous, the following distinctions are suggested:

Mind mapping Concept mapping
Earlier stage Later stage
Knowledge-development Knowledge-share
Gathers ideas Synthesizes ideas
Internal audience External audience
Brainstorms Explains

Modes edit

  1. Draw in the sand with a stick
  2. Paper and pencil
  3. Blackboard/Whiteboard
  4. Post-it stickers
  5. Computer software

Styles edit

There is no limit to the ways in which concept maps might be constructed, however here are some common approaches:

  1. Place the key concept at the centre, with all other concepts radiating outwards from the centre.
  2. Hierarchical (e.g., top-down / bottom-up) in which concepts cascade into sub-concepts, and so on.
  3. Consider labelling the connections/paths - this generally creates a richer, more meaningful map.

Examples edit

  1. Introduction to concept mapping (Slideshare)
  2. Gallery

Practice edit

Software edit

  1. List of concept mapping software
  2. List of mind mapping software

Offline edit

  • Open Office Portable - Download and install (so we can use OO Draw)

Online edit

  • MindMeister

File formats edit

Master edit

  • odg
  • svg

Exported edit

  • gif
  • png
  • svg

Milestones edit

The milestones would better emerge from the wider context enough to understand why and how the concept map or the like came into being, not to mention what it is all about. Maybe not accidentally, it began to emerge and evolve parallel with the Internet-cum-hypertext-cum-PDP (parallel distributed processing) and above all the contextualist-cum-constructivist against positivist-cum-analytic philosophy, starting from the late 1970s. As such, it is not only deductive analysis but also inductive synthesis and guess.

Mind map, 1975 edit

In 1975, he began working with Tony Buzan teaching mind maps, and memory skills to various European corporations. In the eighties, he expanded this work to include personal development tools and mindsets, teaming up with Roger Evans to run programs on creativity enhancement.

-- From w: Peter Russell (author)

Conceptual map, 1975 edit

[Harold D. Lasswell] [2] briefly outlines the policy sciences approach for contextual, problem-oriented, multi-method analysis. He indicates how a "conceptual map" developed from this approach can be used to analyze population issues.

-- Excerpts from Rodney Muth, Mary M. Finley, Marcia F. Muth (eds.) Harold D. Lasswell: An Annotated Bibliography, Springer, 1990. pp. 245-247.

Conceptual graph, 1976 edit

Conceptual graphs (CGs) are a formalism for knowledge representation. In the first published paper on CGs, John F. Sowa (Sowa 1976[3]) used them to represent the conceptual schemas used in database systems. The first book on CGs (Sowa 1984[4]) applied them to a wide range of topics in artificial intelligence, computer science, and cognitive science.

Entity-relationship model, 1976 edit

In software engineering, an entity-relationship model (ERM) is an abstract and conceptual representation of data. Entity-relationship modeling is a database modeling method, used to produce a type of conceptual schema or semantic data model of a system, often a relational database, and its requirements in a top-down fashion. Diagrams created by this process are called entity-relationship diagrams, ER diagrams, or ERDs.

Two related entities
[ newbies ]---< cite >---[ oldies ]
        for various reasons        

Frame semantics, 1976 edit

Frame semantics ... relates linguistic semantics to encyclopaedic knowledge. The basic idea is that one cannot understand the meaning of a single word without access to all the essential knowledge that relates to that word.

Stepping Stones Report, 1977 edit

Without any political experience, he dedicated the year of 1977 to analysing what he considered to be wrong with the UK.... He created this report for the Tory party, working with Norman S. Stauss, then at Unilever. He created a diagram that showed how all these problems were interlinked.


The report was never published, although it can be said to have had an effect on Thatcher.

When Margaret Thatcher, who read chemistry at Oxford, saw the diagram, she remarked it looked like a chemical plant.


Hoskyns was interviewed about Stepping Stones and the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory!.

Connections, 1978 edit

Connections explores an "Alternative View of Change" (the subtitle of the series) that rejects the conventional linear and teleological view of historical progress. Burke contends that one cannot consider the development of any particular piece of the modern world in isolation. Rather, the entire gestalt of the modern world is the result of a web of interconnected events, each one consisting of a person or group acting for reasons of their own motivations (e.g. profit, curiosity, religious) with no concept of the final, modern result of what either their or their contemporaries' actions finally led to. The interplay of the results of these isolated events is what drives history and innovation, and is also the main focus of the series and its sequels.

Advance organizers revisited, 1978 edit

Advance organizers provide scaffolding, or support for new information. This is achieved by directing attention to what is important in the coming material, highlighting relationships, and providing a reminder about relevant prior knowledge. Advance organizers are helpful in the way that they help the process of learning when difficult and complex material are introduced. This is satisfied through two conditions:

  1. The student must process and understand the information presented in the organizer-- this increases the effectiveness of the organizer itself.
  2. The organizer must indicate the relations among the basic concepts and terms that will be used.[5]
See also

Information design, 1970s edit

From graphic design

Information design began as a subset of, or synonym for, graphic design .... One of the first uses of the term was by the London graphic design consultancy Pentagram, who used the term in the 1970s to mean their graphic design, as distinct from product or other kinds of design. Since then, the term has come to be used specifically for graphic design for displaying information effectively, rather than just attractively or for artistic expression.


The term 'information design' emerged as a multidisciplinary area of study in the 1970s. Some graphic designers started to use the term, and it was consolidated with the publication of the Information Design Journal in 1979.[9]

From statistics

During the 1970s,[10] Edward Tufte developed a course on statistical graphics, which he further developed in joint seminars with John Tukey, a pioneer in the field of information design. The course materials became the foundation for his first book on information design, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which he self-published in 1982.

ENQUIRE, 1980 edit

ENQUIRE was an early software project written in 1980 by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, which was the predecessor to the World Wide Web in 1989.

It was a simple hypertext program that had some of the same ideas as the Web and the Semantic Web but was different in several important ways.

According to Berners-Lee, the name was inspired by a book entitled Enquire Within Upon Everything.

Rich picture, 1980 edit

Part of the soft systems methodology, rich pictures provide a mechanism for learning about complex or ill-defined problems by drawing detailed ("rich") representations of them. [...] The finished picture may be of value to other stakeholders of the problem being described since it is likely to capture many different facets of the situation, but the real value of this technique is the way it forces the creator to think deeply about the problem and understand it well enough to express it pictorially (a process known as action learning).


Rich pictures are a diagrammatic way of relating your own experiences and perceptions to a given problem situation through the identification and linking of a series of concepts. The creation of a rich picture provides a forum in which to think about a given situation. Rich pictures should concentrate on both the structure and the processes of a given situation.

Rich pictures are a part of the understanding process, not just a way of recording what you know of a given situation or creating a work of art. The use of metaphor in rich pictures means that their interpretation by others can often be difficult. This is of little consequence as it is the personal learning aspects that are important to this method. [[11] [12]]

Mental model, 1983 edit

Philip Johnson-Laird published Mental Models: Towards a Cognitive Science of Language, Inference and Consciousness in 1983. In the same year, Dedre Gentner and Albert Stevens edited a collection of chapters in a book also titled Mental Models.

WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project, 1990 edit
Original proposal
Information Management: A Proposal
Tim Berners-Lee, CERN
March 1989, May 1990

The diagram on top is a concept map. See also the following:

Excerpt from Linked information systems

In providing a system for manipulating this sort of information, the hope would be to allow a pool of information to develop which could grow and evolve with the organisation and the projects it describes. For this to be possible, the method of storage must not place its own restraints on the information. This is why a "web" of notes with links (like references) between them is far more useful than a fixed hierarchical system. [...] The system we need is like a diagram of circles and arrows, where circles and arrows can stand for anything.

We can call the circles nodes, and the arrows links. Suppose each node is like a small note, summary article, or comment. [...] Ideally, it represents or describes one particular person or object. Examples of nodes can be

  • People
  • Software modules
  • Groups of people
  • Projects
  • Concepts
  • Documents
  • Types of hardware
  • Specific hardware objects

The arrows which links circle A to circle B can mean, for example, that A...

  • depends on B
  • is part of B
  • made B
  • refers to B
  • uses B
  • is an example of B

Knowledge Nation, 2001 edit

Knowledge Nation was the education policy of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), launched just before the 2001 Federal Election....

Barry Jones was the principal planner of the Knowledge Nation blueprint, as chair of the Chifley Research Centre's Knowledge Nation Taskforce.

The most remembered element is a chart with many nodes and many tangled lines connecting these nodes, representing the many components of Australia's education system. This complicated chart prompted the ALP's opposing parties to dub the policy "Noodle Nation".

Case studies edit

See also edit

Subpages edit

External links edit

  1. Concept mapping and mind mapping resources (Google Groups - TALO)
  2. Introduction to concept mapping (Slideshow - mostly examples of concept maps)
  3. FCMappers: international community for fuzzy cognitive mapping - also offering a free software solution for the analysis of FCMs and sharing experience about concept and cognitive mapping.

References edit

  1. Novak, J., & Canas, A. (2008). The theory underpinning concept maps and how to construct them.
  2. Harold D. Lasswell (1975). "Population Change and policy Sciences: Proposed Workshops on Reciprocal Impact Analysis." In: Warren F. Ilchman, Harold D. Lasswell, John D. Montgomery, and Myron Weiner (eds.) Policy Sciences and Population. Lexington, MA: Lexigton Books. pp. 117-135.
  3. John F. Sowa (1976), "Conceptual Graphs for a Data Base Interface", IBM Journal of Research and Development 20(4), 336–357, July 1976. PDF
  4. John F. Sowa (1984), Conceptual Structures: Information Processing in Mind and Machine, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1984.
  5. Woolfolk, A.E., Winne, P.H., Perry, N.E., & Shapka, J. (2010). Educational Psychology (4th ed). Toronto: Pearson Canada.
  6. Ausubel, David (1978). "In defense of advance organizers: A reply to the critics." Review of Educational Research, 48, 251-257.
  7. Ausubel, David, Novak, Joseph, & Hanesian, H. (1978). Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View (2nd Ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
  8. Novak, Joseph (1977). A Theory of Education. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
  9. "Origins of the IDA: Information Design Association." 1991-05-14. [1]
  10. In 1975, while at Princeton, Tufte was asked to teach a statistics course to a group of journalists who were visiting the school to study economics.
  11. Brian Wilson (1980). Systems: Concepts, methodologies and Applications, John Wiley & Sons.
  12. Peter Checkland (1981). Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, John Wiley & Sons.