ABC: Applications & Benefits of Concept Mapping

Now that you know how to concept map, here is a list of ways and reasons to concept map:

Syllabus Planning:

Concept map may be an efficient way to build the syllabus for a course  because the process of concept mapping will isolate the points that set the foundation for course knowledge from the details of each unit. More importantly, a completed concept map would allow the instructor and students to see the big picture of what is being covered in the course AND how they are inter-related. This may also help instructors identify and lend schedule flexibility by attending to students’ interests in a connected concept rather than a rigid linear structure.

Lesson Planning: 

Often planning lessons and executing it in class is a challenge for most teachers, especially new teachers. Concept maps can help you work your way through the question: “What do I want my students to ABSOLUTELY know?” In other words, the process of concept mapping can help you isolate the most important ideas (the central concepts) from the breadth of concepts and skills students can learn. This is important when it comes to (i) time allocation, (ii) assessment objectives, and (iii) meeting standards.

Summarize and Revise: 

An appropriately constructed concept map (with linking words) serves as a snapshot summary  sheet for learners to review and revise. This is particularly helpful when the learner creates their own concept map rather than one is given to them to study (though that may be useful to a lesser extent too).

Team System Think:

Collaborative concept maps encourage students to bring a piece to the table and work to see how each piece contributes to the whole. This takes the popular ‘group think’ brainstorming sessions to the next level by prioritizing, fine-tuning, and interlinking ideas. Imagine the possibilities of a guiding question that is targeting a macro-system.

Practice Example: What factors shape the passing of an animal rights legislation? Such a guiding question evokes big concepts including and not restricted to animal welfare, politics, economics, veterinary practices, social aspects, cultural considerations, species of animal etc. As you may imagine, each of these big (central) concepts have multiple sub-components, some of which may overlap and in some cases contradict. This kind of question might be more manageable by using a Jigsaw method i.e. allow one student to concept map one big concept each with the team coming together to hash out the macro-system level concept map. By engaging in such an activity, students likely refine their thinking about (i) the factors that shape animal rights legislation, (ii) the common elements across factors, (iii) the contradictory  elements, (iv) the complementary elements, and potentially (v)  the role of each element in contributing to the passing of the legislation.

Assessment: Concept maps may be wonderful tools for assessment over time and content. Watch the video below to learn how:


Nesbit, J. C., & Adesope, O. O. (2006). Learning with concept and knowledge maps: A meta-analysis. Review of educational research, 76, 413-448

Adesope, O. O., & Nesbit, J. C. (2009). A systematic review of research on collaborative learning with concept maps. Handbook of research on collaborative learning using concept mapping, 238-251.

Haugwitz, M., Nesbit, J. C., & Sandmann, A. (2010). Cognitive ability and the instructional efficacy of collaborative concept mapping. Learning and individual differences, 20, 536-543.


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