Skip to main content

Concept mapping

Having explored and practised session design, we will now move to designing the content of the overall C-RL programme or course. It is here that concept mapping can prove helpful in sorting and sifting the many possible topics that could be covered.

In brief
Amundsen, Weston and McCalpine (2008) propose a simple 6 step process of concept mapping. It is argued that this provides a method of course design through which the course is viewed as an integrated whole. Concept mapping is proposed as a way of establishing relationships between concepts and surfacing tacit views about course content.

  1. Write down everything that comes to mind that you consider important in the course you are designing.
  2. Go back and read through what you have written and try to reduce the number of ideas or concepts by circling those you consider most important.
  3. Write each of the circled concepts on a post‐it note.
  4. Sort the post‐it notes into meaningful clusters or groupings.
  5. Label each cluster and write the labels on a post‐it note. These labels will probably reflect the key concepts you will use in your map, but this may change.
  6. Arrange these labels (key concepts) in a way that is meaningful to you.

You are now invited to read Amundsen, Weston & McCalpine's (2008) article from Studies in Higher Education in the core reading. The appendix to the article contains a summary of their approach and it is worth reading this first before attempting the whole piece.

Integrating theory and practice
Try to 'concept map' the C-RL programme you are thinking of designing. When developing a series of sessions, concept mapping could help manage and stage the content.

Here are two worked examples developed by the course team and associates. The first relates to the career studies module discussed earlier. The second is a more detailed example and relates to the design of a work experience module.
Career studies module (Powerpoint Presentation) (not narrated)
Work experience module (PDF Document) (especially pages 4 and 35-37)

Resources to aid in concept mapping C-RL
Four word documents are provided in order to further develop your concept maps:
Copy of the handout on concept mapping from the workshop (Word Document)
Concept map: career development theories (Word Document)
Concept map: career management styles (Word Document)
Concept map: career types (Word Document)
Possible weaknesses
Amundsen et al. pay relatively little attention to grounding course design in the student or user experience. Arguably, they could pay more attention to this aspect. This weakness can be addressed by gaining more evidence of participants' experiences either directly or indirectly.