Mapping the minds of the students

Recently I started teaching at the German Jordanian University and wanted to experiment some new techniques in teaching and introduce new study approach for students. As a result, the students developed the following drawings and diagrams.

 

Those drawings were not produced by art nor graphics design students, they were developed by students of the management and logistics school. The drawings represent mind maps of one of the chapters they studied. All students can be creative and produce artistic works to utilize them for studying.

“A mind map is a diagram used to visually organise information. A mind map is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank landscape page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

Mind maps help in two main areas:

  • Learning and memorizing

Where the mind map stimulates both sides of the brain / thinking and creates associations between the items to be learned and memorized with visual, colorful and artistic images or drawings.

  • Creativity and ideas generation

Where the mind map stimulates the brain to radiate outside the core idea and explore new areas through creating association between current ideas and new ideas by unleashing and utilizing the power of both sides of the brain / thinking

There are lots of resources and examples describing how the mind maps help in both areas. One of them is in my slideshare site

In the experiment I wanted to check the effect of mind map development on learning improvements. For that I asked the students to summarize one of the chapters from the text book as an extra work. I was also asking the students to review the in class case studies and summarize them in mind map format to discuss and analyze them. Not to mention that I used to draw some mind maps during some lectures.

 

The drawings shown in this article are examples of students’ works summarizing some chapters of the Marketing, Technology Management and Social Entrepreneurship courses. The students had the freedom to prepare the mind maps on computer software or by drawing them on papers.

 

Although some drawings show that some students were taking the process seriously and hopefully improved their understanding and memorizing the subjects, but I had no clear tool to measure the possible improvements. For that as a following step, this experiment should be improved through introducing measurement and validation tool to check the change in the results of the students before and after utilizing the mind map process.

 

During the same period I had the chance to deliver a workshop on mind mapping and creativity to group of university students and fresh graduates volunteers who are participating in youth coaching program. Although the participants were excited, but some of them who know about the mind maps previously from their school time, told me that they tried to learn from mind maps and that was not helpful for them and they find it difficult to memorize. I investigated about this issue with them and I found out that their schools teachers used to summarize the lessons in mind map format/drawing and gave them to the students to learn from.

This was the problem; the mind maps were prepared and given to the students. Although this might look nice and the mind map were drawn in good way and summarized the lessons or books with high quality, but this approach misses the core concept of mind map. Mind maps are not much about the final result / map; they are about the process of creating the map. The process helps in writing down the words, creating the associations, adding the images and colors, all that will stimulate the brain and not the final drawing.

 

Finally it is important for the students to continue preparing and developing mind maps as one time only will not generate the expected results, it is like training in the gym, one visit to the gym  will make you tiered, but frequent visits will improve your health and body. And remember, watching the trainer will not help you if you do not practice.

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