Any person learning information should:
1. Reduce mountains of information into a few key concepts; and
2. Understand the relationships among those concepts.
Some students make and memorize a list of "key terms." Although this helps them reduce mountains of information into a more manageable amount, they fail to understand the connections between these concepts.
Other students take the list of key terms one step farther by grouping related key terms together. That is, their list of key terms is broken down into several sublists (or, if they put each term on an index card, they have several piles of index cards). These students have made some progress in understanding the relationships among the concepts.
Students who use concept mapping go several steps further. They actually see the links between terms. They don't study a ton of isolated terms. They don't study a few lists of related terms. Instead, they map the paths between connected, linked, grouped set of terms.
1. Make a list of what you consider to be the key terms.
2. Find the broadest (most general) term and put it at the top of a new piece of paper. This is the topic of your map.
3. Organize the rest of your concepts into a smaller number of groups.
4. For each of these groups, choose the most general term --or create a general term/phrase that describes each group. Place these group headings in a row under your general heading.
5. Pencil in a linking line between the top concept and each of the group headings. Label each linking line with a linking (connecting) word, such as:
|Definition||Is a characteristic of|
|Leads to, Influences, Results in, Causes, Controls||Predicts|
|Develops into, Comes from||Depends on|
|Is made up of, Is subdivided into, Includes, Contains||Is part of, A type is|
|Helps/Hurts||Is the opposite of|
7. Pencil in top-down linking lines and label each line. Make sure that the linking words express the relationship between the two concepts.
8. Look for cross links between concepts on different branches of your map. Indicate connections between concepts with a dotted line. Label the cross links.
9. Where appropriate, add specific examples at the end of a branch.
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