Creating visual TOOLS to SEE student-learning
Category: Educational Software
Main Site: http://ctools.msu.edu/
Release Code: ctools version 1.0a


What are concept maps made of?

Concept maps are used to portray knowledge in terms of interconnected statements. For a broader introduction to concept maps, see Dr. Luckie's page on concept maps.

The building blocks to a C-TOOLS concept map are described below.


Words and phrases

words and phrases A concept map is made of words and phrases.


Links between words and phrases

linked phrase A concept map links together words and phrases.


Different kinds of words and phrases

A concept map consists of words and phrases that operate either as
standalone concepts or links between concepts



proposition A concept word or phrase linked to a linking word or phrase linked to another concept word or phrase represents a proposition.



A concept map organizes information into clusters based on the strength of their association. This clustering of information in a concept map presents a navigable hierarchy for both the maker and viewer of the concept map.



A concept map can also have cross-links which show how clusters of information (also called knowledge domains) relate to one another.


A General Guide to Well-Constructed Concept Maps

The following is a brief illustration of what represents a reasonably well-constructed concept map versus a poorly constructed concept map. From the following explanation, you should be able to learn the basics of concept map design.

MAP #1: A reasonably well-constructed concept map
reasonably constructed concept map

MAP #2: A poorly constructed concept map
poorly constructed concept map

General criteria for concept map construction are:

With these four criteria, we can begin to evaluate the differences between MAP #1 and MAP #2 above.

MAP #1 MAP #2
There is branching at most levels along the hierarchical trees.
For instance, the MAP #2 phrase "will measure things including amounts" does not present a branching hierarchy of information.
CONCEPT WORDS Uses specific terminology
e.g. "typical value", "variation"
e.g. "things", "in many ways"
PROPOSITIONS Correct Somewhat correct
The vagueness of the words still impacts the amount of meaning that can be associated with the concept map.
CROSS-LINKING There is cross-linking
The "Typical Value" hierarchy cross-links with the "Spread" hierarchy at the word "outliers".
There is not any cross-linking
The "things" hierarchy does not cross-link to the "in many ways" hierarchy.

Based on the table above, MAP #1 is a superior concept map to MAP #2.

For a more detailed explanation on concept maps and their construction, please visit Dr. Luckie's page on concept maps.

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