At Teaching and Learning Services, we regularly receive questions from instructors asking for ideas to enhance their teaching and improve students’ engagement in class. So, we’ve recorded 2-3 minute video bites that describe how to implement some strategies we’ve chosen based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. We’ll be sharing these strategies in the Teaching for Learning @McGill University blog over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
Strategy: Concept Mapping
Concept maps, sometimes referred to as mind maps, are visual representations that can express relationships among concepts. Concept mapping can allow students to demonstrate their understanding of course content in creative ways.
Why use this strategy?
One of the most valuable learning tools I’ve encountered in the classroom was an assignment that required the development of a concept map. It was at the end of a course, lectures were wrapping up and one of the final assessments asked us to produce a concept map that represented the various learning theories we had covered in the course. In all honesty, I was starting to feel the tinge of apathy many students experience when a break is looming. I really didn’t see the value in the assignment, but I found motivation, nonetheless, to power through.
Unexpectedly, the concept map became one of my most appreciated assignments in my university experience. Creating a concept map is simple and straightforward, though it takes time to create it. In the particular course for which I created a concept map, I walked away with a much deeper understanding of learning theories and a more articulated sense of how people learn. The assignment not only forced me to review and consolidate content, but also to make connections among different components of the theories. As a visual learner, it helped me consolidate that information more effectively than many of my other studying habits had.
If I were to give advice to fellow students, I would absolutely recommend creating a concept map as a study tool. If I could make a suggestion to instructors, I would recommend assigning a concept map as it not only gives students an opportunity to review the course material, but you may also enjoy assessing students’ creative demonstrations of their learning.
Would you like to know more?
McGill Librarian April Colosimo’s Concept Mapping web site offers instructions, tools and examples.
Check out the other posts in the Strategy Bites series:
What strategies do you use to get students to make connections among theories and concepts they learn? Share your ideas!
Jasmine Parent is an M.Sc. Graduate from the program of Global and Community Nutrition in the Department of Dietetics at McGill. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Education Technology Program at UBC and she works as an Assistant Online Course Developer at TLS. Her greatest passions include cooking and exploring healthy recipes, practicing yoga and spending time in nature.