Mind mapping and concept mapping as techniques of teaching: a comparison

The two types of visual techniques have been developed by different groups of scholars. Thus, mind mapping was developed by Buzan (1974, 2000), while concept mapping was developed by Novak (Novak, 1981; Novak and Gowin, 1984).

A mind map is a presentation form of radiant thinking, utilizing lines, colors, characters, numbers, symbols, images, pictures or keywords, etc. to associate and integrate, visualize the learned concept and maximize brain potential (Buzan & Buzan, 1996).  Basing on free association and imagination, and using pictures and symbols to express the thoughts, mind mapping enhances creativity, problem-solving and deduction capacity.

The alternative notion, the concept map, has been developed as a research instrument. Novak şi Gowin (1984, p. 15) defined the concept map as „a graphic scheme that represent a set of meanings of the concept integrated in a frame of proposals”. A concept map uses diagrams organized in a tree structure, which include concepts framed in boxes. Starting from a key question, concepts are connected with linkage words, in order to form a statement.

The discussion about the potential of application of each technique in different areas and for different purposes should consider first their characteristics. For example, mind mapping can be used with no previous preparation in educational or professional settings. Being a deductive and a creative method, aiming to represent the mental structure of participants, cannot have as result major errors. Also, because previous preparations and lectures are not necessary (it is based on previous knowledge but the information needed as ground is rather general) it is not a need to select participants or to have a time reserved for preparation. Thus, can be used easily in professional and organizational settings (like group meetings, brainstorming, pitches, and so on). On the other hand, concept mapping cannot have the same degree of spontaneity as mind mapping. Concept mapping needs a previous time for preparation and a good understanding of definition of concepts. Therefore, concept maps cannot be created by any participant (should be selected upon their degree of competence to discuss a topic) and cannot be built spontaneously (it is not appropriate for an unannounced exercise in class). Finally, reviewing the types of application of method (for example, individual or group building of a map) becomes obvious that mind mapping can be applied in all types of settings (individual at home, in class individually, in group in class) and spontaneously, while concept maps are difficult to build in a group, and could be applied individually in class only after a time of preparation.