Connect the Dots with Concept Maps

Posted on May 17, 2011 by

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There is a push in academia to get students to look more in depth at what they are learning.  Students expect teachers to make learning not only innovative, exciting, different and entertaining but easy. 

Rigor is a very popular word used on campuses by teachers, administrators, and students alike, but they all have very different ideas as to what this should include.  Students often see rigor to be synonymous with creative.  It’s a new way to get them to learn the what, why, how, when and who of any subject.  On the flip side, teachers and administrators need to see the results of a rigorous course… increased test scores, improved comprehension, spirited classroom discussion and the list goes on.  Concept maps are a great way to connect what students want to do and what university faculty and staff want to see.

Despite the fact that concept maps have been around for a while, the modern day college student isn’t familiar with it.  This fact  makes using  concept maps new and fresh to students and essentially an ace in the hole for faculty and adjunct alike.  One of the greatest benefits of concept mapping is the versatility and ability to utilize in different disciplines and with students with different learning modalities. 

Implementing concepts maps into a course will improve critical thinking, deepen students understanding of how ideas connect on a larger scale and push the student to think more independently.  The hope is that these students will (hopefully) often find the answers to questions or issues they face on there own as opposed to plugging in a formula.  That sounds pretty rigorous by anyone standards.  Its sure to make students sit up and pay attention to this new teaching methods which will in turn give the results that assessment hungry faculty and staff are in such need for.

Do you use concept maps in your course?  Are they effective?  If you don’t use them, why not?

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Posted in: Academic Affairs