Okay, can you guess what it is? What’s colorful, interactive, and useful to summarize a biology lecture?
The answer: a mind map!
It’s an easy and engaging method to summarize complex topics, do group assignments, store information, and have some fun during studying.
A great thing about mind maps is that you can make any project really yours—every mind map is what you make it. Essentially, the map follows your way of thinking, so completing assignments can be easier if there’s a straightforward roadmap.
In this guide, we will take a look at eight easy and helpful ways to use mind maps in your student life.
1. Understand Complex Subjects
Suppose you have to do research for an upcoming paper on digital marketing. The topic is nothing but simple, and there’s a bunch of approaches, methods, and techniques that businesses use to promote themselves online.
So it’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged, especially in the beginning.
Mind mapping can help to manage the knowledge and plan the research paper. Instead of taking a traditional way like bullet points, you can start with “digital marketing” as the main idea and go from there.
For example, you can continue with the main components of digital marketing (content marketing, paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), etc., and make a transition to goals that each component helps to achieve.
Bam. Just like that, you have a bird’s eye view of the outline of the future research paper. A mind map would be useful regardless of how long it’s supposed to be. You can do a map for a 50-page paper and still be able to understand and navigate it effortlessly. You can even add text to connections between the concepts. It’s a really good idea to summarize concepts and explain the relationships between them. Such customization is possible for every mind map and you can add texts in seconds just by choosing an appropriate feature.
2. Improve Academic Performance
Since mind maps are great for making complex subjects easier to understand, scholar research has tried to test their effect on student performance.
This study published in The New Educational Review Journal is particularly interesting. The researchers used mind maps to test students’ knowledge retention and attitude to the Introduction to Educational Psychology course.
The achievement tests showed that students who used mind maps performed much better than the control group. Not only that, but the attitude towards the entire course has changed, as students were able to organize and retain knowledge more effectively.
So, regular use of mind maps as a way to analyze and synthesize complex information helps to improve course performance. That’s why having a readily available tool for mind mapping could help to improve knowledge-structure organization, and consequently, learning outcomes.
3. Make Learning More Engaging
Traditional learning methods like listening to a lecture or reading a textbook aren’t highly engaging, so students often need different activities to retain knowledge.
Mind mapping is one of them because it actively involves the maker in the process of brainstorming, creating ideas, and connecting concepts into one comprehensive map. The effect might be even stronger in the case of team projects where multiple people collaborate on a single map.
Active involvement makes mind maps a good tool to help with understanding and memorizing complex concepts.
4. Store Information in One Place
Making mind maps regularly and saving them somewhere can help create a resource bank for future references. If you need to start preparing for an upcoming exam or remember something from a lecture, you can easily turn to the stored mind maps.
So, a resource bank would be good assistance because it summarizes the most important concepts and visualizes the information.
5. Make Group Assignments Easier to Do
Mind maps are an excellent idea for assignments and projects where students have to work together. These could be:
- Group presentations
- Team-based research papers
- Research with shared data sets
Working on such collaborative projects helps learn how to work on a team, share the workload, and achieve greater insights into the learning material by having multiple people research it.
Many mind mapping tools allow online collaboration, so the participants could work on one project regardless of their location. That’s perfect for today when learning happens online.
But it’s also easy to share a mind map file with others so they could work on their part. Anyone with a mind mapping app can edit and add information to compatible files.
6. Plan Dissertations More Efficiently
Dissertation planning takes time. But it could become a real source of stress in many situations because:
- The student and the advisor have to exchange numerous emails back in forth—email communication might make the process longer
- There are always a hundred of ways to begin chapters and subchapters—timely advice is necessary for reasonable progress
- The student feels overwhelmed with the whole dissertation planning process—the academic advisor should be able to provide feedback and support at will.
Mind maps can be useful in all of these scenarios because they allow both offline and online collaboration.
Here’s how a professor can help with dissertation planning in a mind map:
- Feedback—a professor can add comments for each element and provide valuable feedback on every part
- Idea collaboration—it’s possible to expand on an idea by adding extra themes, links to relevant scholarly research, and directions
- Outline management and improvement—a professor can propose to edit or remove irrelevant parts of a plan to keep it focused.
But there’s one more important benefit of mind maps when planning any kind of document: it speeds up the process. Having one file with a simple visual representation of a complex document makes collaboration easier and faster.
7. Note-Taking in Class
Students tend to take notes either by writing them by hand or typing on a computer. In both ways, it’s very easy to create a wall of comments that’ll be hard to understand as soon as the next day.
Besides, the traditional note-taking:
- Is often laborious and exhausting, both mentally and physically
- Encourages writing whole sentences, which is time-consuming
- Makes it hard to add extra information to notes, especially when writing by hand.
But there’s a third way: mind maps. Students can create them instead of densely packed texts to create skimmable and easier-to-understand notes.
Benefits of mind maps for note-taking:
- They show all relationships and connections between any pieces of information in a lecture
- Students can attach extra links, notes without undermining the view of the map (the comments are displayed when the user needs them)
- Mind mapping tools come with students-friendly templates they can use to speed up note-taking (a SWOT analysis mind map, for example, could be useful to marketing classes)
- Mind maps allow adding such helpful materials as icons, colors, and images to help memorize content easier
- You can always go back and add more notes—just start a separate idea or connect to an existing one.
The notes made with mind maps will make it easier to research materials for exams, essays, research papers, and other assignments.
8. Write Book Summaries
Do you write book summaries or reviews? Yes? Excellent.
Mind maps are perfect for summarizing any information, and book summary assignments are a perfect example of that. A map visualizes your own way of thinking and understanding the book, so rearranging content accordingly will make it easier to write the summary.
To create a mind map for a book:
- Start with something very general, like the main topic or idea. Staying general makes it easy to connect secondary-level and subsequent ideas (but if you like the author’s structure, you can start with chapters)
- Make secondary-level ideas your arguments. They can be your observations, thoughts, ideas, or points that will help write the summary
- Add comments to each argument. They will help to make descriptions for each paragraph in the future summary
- Connect arguments where necessary. The connections will show relationships between arguments and help you find the ones you can merge into one
- Revise the summary. Once you’re done with the map, put some distance between you two and have a look later—you might do some rearrangements.
These are the essential steps you can take to create a map for writing an excellent book summary or review. Try it—you’ll find outlining with mind maps more convenient, as there’s no pressure to follow “proper” outline standards.
Mind Maps for Student Productivity: Summary
Mind maps are perfect for summarizing information and making it easier to understand. This along has so many benefits for students! You can make quick notes during lectures, summarize complex topics, collaborate easier, and plan assignments.
The most amazing thing about mind maps is that you can make and access them on any device. Their versatility makes them a perfect tool and learning assistant, and it feels more like doodling than studying.