Sunday, September 20, 2009

Effective Concept Maps

Here is a scholarly paper that investigates the "foundations" of the effective use of concept maps.[1] I am a bit dubious about "foundation-talk" applying to "effective use" or "tools," but I guess "foundation" means something different in educational psychology from what it means in philosophy. In any case, the paper contains some interesting observations.

I especially like
  • the emphasis on questions
  • the distinction between static and dynamic maps, which leads to
  • the distinction between concept maps that deal with events as opposed to objects, and
  • the claim that "concept maps modeled with a circular structure ... lead to significantly more instances of meaningful or dynamic propositions when compared with concept maps modeled with a tree-like structure"

It's not that I agree with all they say. It seems to me a bit too naive to say that "Objects or things are key building blocks of the universe, and they are also key building block of knowledge. We use words, usually nouns, to label objects. Events are the other key building blocks of the universe, and also for knowledge." Events are not blocks, and the universe is no lego model.

Still, the distinction between static and dynamic maps seems to be me worthy of further thought. And it does seem to be true that when "we focus on events, we are usually asking how something happens, and concept maps emphasizing events, using verbs, ... tend to be richer in explanations, whereas concept maps focused on objects tend to be more descriptive." It may also be true that concept maps showing explanations require deeper or more dynamic thinking.

1. The link come to you thanks to WikIT.

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