Learning to know

Instructional Mind Map

It’s amazing when you find yourself learning stuff – that you thought you knew – that you really didn’t know.

As a project manager, I came to realize long ago the effectiveness of drawing out concepts, strategies, activities and processes on whiteboards to show the relationships and/or dependencies between key activities and their relationship to accomplishing mission objectives. But, what I did not know is that creating those crude conceptual drawings (mostly just boxes around text with arrows) were so effective because the drawings were creating visual maps that crossed three learning theory domains. The drawings were cognitive load because mapping creates a “big picture” that facilities chunking of large packets of information. The drawings were schema networking because mapping allowed viewers to connect what I was saying to what they already knew about what needed to be done. They were dual coding because the mapping allowed both visual spatial and auditory learning simultaneously.

Who would have imagined that those tacky little drawings ran so deep? (Certainly not me.)

The assigned reading for this week taught me so much.  First, even though I had been using a crude level of visual mapping for decades, I did not realize that all visual mapping should not be created the same.  I had categorically referred to all types of mapping as “mind maps”. But, Martin Davies’ theories made me realize that there are three distinct types of mind-mapping that should be used for three distinct purposes.

I learned that informal rapid-fire “mind mapping” should be used for brainstorming; “concept mapping” should be used to structure details, connections and relationship; and argument mapping should be used to prove or argue a point by comparing it to the opposition’s objections  and caveats (Davis, 2010). Humph. Amazing.

I learned from Gerard Richardson that there is a large body of knowledge related to the effectiveness of using graphic organizers to drive student achievement, reading, thinking, retention and cognitive load (Richardson, 2003). And, I am sure I will never forget the “graphic organizers” Richardson used on Page 13 and Page 15 that clearly argue the point that graphic organizing contributes to “meaningful learning” as compared to “non-learning” and “rote memorization”.  Clear as mud now.

I learned about the effectiveness of using computerized mapping software to teach science from Matt P. Stevenson,  Rikke Hartmeyer & Peter Bentsen (Stevenson et al, 2017).  But, if given a choice, I would prefer instructing students to use the simple graphic facilitation tips demonstrated in the Bigger Picture Video for dramaturgical demonstrations.

Yes. I learned a lot from the reading for Week 5.  Now, I can hardly wait to go back into the world and start using some of this stuff.


Bigger Picture Video. (2013, April 5). Learning Graphic Facilitation – 7 Elements by Bigger Picture [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/S5DJC6LaOCI

Davies, M. (2010). Concept mapping, mind mapping and argument mapping: what are the differences and do they matter? Higher Education, 62(3), 279-301. doi:10.1007/s10734-010-9387-6

Richardson, G. (2003). Graphic Organizers: A Review of Scientifically Based Research. The Institute for the Advancement of Research in Education (IARE) at AEL.

Stevenson, M. P., Hartmeyer, R., & Bentsen, P. (2017).

Systematically reviewing the potential of concept mapping technologies to promote self-regulated learning in primary and secondary science education. Educational Research Review, 21, 1-16. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2017.02.002

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