Concept/Mental Mapping

I’m interested that this has been chosen as an assessment tool for this course. If my understanding is correct then people that have signed up to be assessed have to produce a mental/concept map on a fairly regular basis.

I’m interested in this because I first began to explore concept maps at least 15 years ago. At the time I was a primary school teacher (ages 5-11 in the UK) and I was a science graduate with an interest in developing science knowledge and skills in the children I was teaching. Concept mapping seemed the ideal tool. I read up on Novak and Novak, and although their work was never originally intended for applying to young children, the primary science journals at that time were full of it. So I tried it out on the 5 and 6 year old children in my class

I won’t go into how I set it up, but what I found extremely interesting was that it wasn’t the children that I expected to be good at it who were. I had some extremely bright boys in my class that year, who just could not get their heads around it. And then there was Valerie – youngest in the class, wouldn’t say ‘boo to a goose’, was never noticeable in any other way, who was a complete whizz at concept mapping.

So is Valerie brighter than Ian and Stephen (the bright boys who couldn’t do it). No I don’t think so. Valerie just learned in a different way and internally organised her knowledge and information in a different way. The boys and Valerie just learned differently.

So this worries me a bit about using concept/mental mapping as an assessment tool, as some people simply don’t learn this way. It doesn’t make them any less able as a learner. They just learn differently.

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