How A Student Can Use Mind Maps

Mind maps have been used for centuries in one version or another, but only recently have educators begun to realize the potential these tools have for learning. As a college student, there are three main ways you can use mind maps to enhance your college experience. Everyone learns differently; for some, mind maps may be a key to success.

First, it is important to understand what a mind map is and how you can create one. Essentially this is a way to explore the many sub-topics surrounding one larger topic. For example, if your larger topic is “food,” your subtopics branching off from that could be “proteins,” “fruits,” and so forth. Each of these subtopics can also have branches. This is endless – subtopics’ subtopics can have even more subtopics. The purpose is to keep you mind completely uncensored. Here’s a simple mind map example. You can draw your map by hand or use online programs to create one.

Mind mapping is important for students in three ways:

  • Brainstorming
  • Collaboration
  • Studying

Brainstorming is the most obvious and widely-used way to make use of mind mapping. You can use it, for example, to come up with a topic for a paper based on a very broad assigned topic. You can also use it to brainstorm solutions to a problem, such as how to find a job or what to declare as your major if you’re undecided.

In a group, mind mapping becomes even more important. When you’re collaborating with others for a class project together or to make a group decision, it can be hard to hear everyone’s ideas. A mind map puts these ideas into a visual form, which makes it easier to see how other members of your group are thinking. Mind maps can even be effective if they are anonymous. If your dorm hall has entertainment money to spend, a large mind map in the hallway where everyone can contribute can help your student activities committee decide how to best use the money based on the collaborative efforts of the students

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, mind mapping can be used to study. This is a more recent application of the mind mapping system, but works really well for memorization, especially if you are a visual learner. To make use of a mind map in this instance, you’ll create a clear representation of the topic. For example, if you’re taking an anatomy class, your topic might be “bones” with subtopics of “legs,” “torso,” and so forth. Keep dividing the topics until you’ve created a visual study guide of all of the bones of the body that you need to memorize. On the day of the test, sketching your mind map study guide is a way to organize your thoughts and remember which bones go where. Even for non-memorizing topics, a mind map can work as a study guide. For example, if you know that you’ll be required to write an essay on a specific topic, you can create a mind map to serve as an outline to that essay. Memorize the mind map, and you won’t miss any points you wanted to cover. If you’re a visual learner (and most people are), this can be a life-saving study tool for big exams.


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