Why this approach is important

Being successful at science at secondary school requires your students to understand and remember large amounts of information. They must also be able to master the specialised vocabulary of science. Everyone learns in different ways and as a teacher it is your responsibility to support the learning of all students. Mind mapping appeals to visual learners and can help them to remember information more easily. However, making a mind map or a concept map involves engaging with and processing information that will help all students to improve their understanding.

There are other important advantages that mind mapping and concept mapping can bring to your teaching:

  • They help students to think creatively and independently.
  • They can help to structure the topic in students’ minds by providing them with an overview of the topic. This helps students to store, package and retain the concepts and link one lesson to another.
  • They provide an opportunity for peer review. Peer review helps students to develop evaluative skills that in turn will help them to take responsibility for their own learning.
  • They link well with brainstorming. Students can work in groups to brainstorm everything they can remember about a topic. Converting the brainstorm in to a mind map or a concept map involves careful thought and will help students to organise the information for themselves.
  • Mind maps and concepts maps will tell you a great deal about how your students are thinking and the depth of their understanding. You can use this to inform your planning.

Pause for thought

  • How do you prefer to learn?
  • Have you used mind maps and concepts maps in the past?
  • If so – what challenges did you find?

There is a tendency for teachers to teach in the way in which they prefer to learn. By being aware of your own preferences, you will be able to be explicit about introducing variety into your teaching. Even if you are not a visual learner, it is worth remembering that the process of constructing a mind map or a concept map is as important as the finished product.

There is no right answer when drawing a mind map, but some are more useful than others. This can be disconcerting for some students who might lack confidence in their own ability. Looking at many examples will help them, and you, develop skills in this area.

What you can learn in this unit

1 Introducing mind maps