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Mind Mapping - A Guide To Student Understanding In Biology
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Mind Mapping - A Guide to Student Understanding In Biology

Let’s face it; summarising information is often a tedious, time-consuming task.

The more strategies we have, the easy it is to do. One good method for summarising information is the mind map.

Our minds make links between different pieces of information. Certain smells remind us of places we have visited. Someone says a word or phrase and we remember a movie, or an occasion in our life where a similar phrase was used. Our minds are complex and sometimes we know that we have some information stored in there but we cannot seem to get it out.

The secret to a successful mind map is to try to mirror the thought processes. As a result you need to start with an initial idea and then branch out into every associated idea that your mind would normally take. If you can identify these links, it makes the construct of your mind map easier and you will more readily recall it when you need to use it.

A similar type of graphical arrangement can be accomplished with a structured overview, however the mind map wanders wherever your mind takes it and hence will be less structured. Some branches will be long, others short. Many mind maps include diagrams to further stimulate the memory. Make sure you have at least an A4 size sheet of paper, though preferably A3, as mind maps can grow quite large.

The extract from a mind map on homeostasis has been draw using Word. There are also a number of different software applications which will help you construct a mind map. These include freemind, mind-genius, mind-mapping, etc. Some are free, others have free trial periods so you can get a sense of how they work and whether they will work for you.

One of the neat ways of trying to integrate technology into your science lessons is to use simple, or complex tools provided by a word processor to help you build up an electronic version. There are open source programs such as the Zoho suite. This doesn't have quite the same range of tools as the Microsoft suite, but it is open source and students can read and edit each others word. Zoho also makes linking a document to a blog or wiki very easy.

The skill of summarisation is a very important one in Science. There is a great deal of information students are expected to recall and apply. It is critical that we not only impress on our students the importance of study, but demonstrate methods by which they can study effectively. Linking study with novel uses of technology can help increase student motivation to want to prepare well for their exams. Preparation is the key to good performance. Having a range of technology tools for Science to help with this preparation can make sure that the whole process is time well spent.

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