Saturday, February 26, 2011

Using Mind Mapping as a Teaching Tool

How many of you remember the grade school exercise of diagramming sentences? How many of you can claim that you enjoyed the exercises? Very few of you out there, I would guess.

To this day, if you were to ask me how I know that the subject comes before the predicate followed by the complement, I would have no good answer for you. However, I am able to write and read a sentence and know that it is written in proper English grammar. My fifth grade teacher would be beaming with pride that I am able to intuitively retain the grammar she taught me decades ago.

So what does this all have to do with mind mapping? Wait a second...what IS mind mapping. It is a way to visualize a concept by drawing out the relationships between several ideas. Here is a bare bones example of how I used mind mapping to brainstorm what my breakfast menu could look like.

Click on images below to see larger views

On a more complex level, you can use mind mapping as a study and teaching tool. Below is a mind map created by allergist and immunologist Dr. Dimov and colleagues at the University of Chicago and LSU to diagram the concept of adhesion molecules.

To find out more about how to use mind mapping as a teaching tool, you should read this article written by a fourth-year medical student in the UK:

Edwards, S, & Cooper, N. (2010). Mind mapping as a teaching resource. The clinical teacher, 7(4), 236-9.


BACKGROUND: Modern mind mapping has been around since the mid-1970s, having been developed in its current form by Tony Buzan. It works by taking information from several sources and displaying this information as key words in a bright, colourful manner. Mind maps have been described as an effective study technique when applied to written material.

CONTEXT: This paper looks at how to use mind mapping as a teaching resource, and was written as a result of the recent undergraduate 'Doctors as Teachers' conference at The Peninsula Medical School. INNOVATION: Mind mapping is a technique not often used or considered by many teachers. This paper looks at how a busy clinical teacher can apply this technique in a practical, useable way. This allows topics to be more interesting to students and makes both learning and teaching more enjoyable.

IMPLICATIONS: Mind mapping has many potential applications to clinical education, and can be adapted to many situations. It can be used as a teaching resource, as an aid to preparing and reviewing lectures, and the technique allows notes to be written and reviewed quickly, and most importantly enables information to be easily updated. Mind mapping can be used in many situations including problem-based learning, small-group teaching, in a one-to-one context, as an examination tool and for personal revision.

By training yourself to mind map the material you need to learn or teach, your brain will begin to integrate the information into a more second nature understanding. In this way mind mapping is like diagramming sentences, but a whole lot more enjoyable.

Be sure to check out my previous blog post about free and easy to use mind mapping tools. There are several sophisticated mind mapping software that you can purchase as well. Go forth and map!