Mind-maps, spider-diagrams and concept-maps are diagrams that visually represent, organise and order information that would otherwise be written as text. We often use variants of these activities in lessons, but use the terms interchangeably and incorrectly; I have regularly referred to spider-diagrams as mind-maps, thought-showers and brainstorms, for example. However, mind-maps, spider-diagrams and concept-maps are actually quite distinct and represent information differently even if they initially look the same. It is well worth understanding these differences as these three methods of visually representing information are arguably better suited to different types of learning activity; for example, mind-maps are better placed for exploring and evaluating what may have caused a controversial historical event if the causes are disputed whereas concept-maps allow pupils to make connections between different types of abstract concepts, such as those found in subjects like sociology, where the links merely demonstrate how the theories are linked within the subject or topic area or are dependent on similar ideas. In the former the connections or links may be direct and hierarchical as opposed to the latter where the connections may be more indirect and tentative. The examples below are based on sociology, but the processes discussed can be applied to other subjects and topics too.
Comparison between Mind Map and Spidergrams
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Both mind maps and spidergrams are useful in ideas clarification. If you move from the usual structure of hand written notes and start organizing your thoughts using mind maps and spidergrams, then you will make a big leap forward in improving the quality of your thinking. Mind Map - a mind map is a graphical representation of ideas or topics in a radial, non-linear manner. Mind maps are used to visualize, organize, and classify ideas, making them perfect for study aids, organizing information, problem solving, writing and making decisions.
How spider diagrams can help you organize your best ideas
As a medical student, I did have to undertake some exams that required writing essays. During my third year at university, I adopted the following approach to preparing for my own essay-based psychology exams — it proved highly effective in my own exams and I hope that you can make effective use of it too. The easiest way to do this is to both look through the past papers and start by planning the essays that have come up in the past and then examine the syllabus and identify areas that lend themselves to essays. Personally, I would give myself one day per essay plan.