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Concept maps for assessing prior knowledge

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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:30 by NZTecAdmin

A concept map can provide a process and template for assessing your learners' current knowledge of a particular topic.

Activating prior knowledge using a concept map is useful because it:

  • orients learners to new content
  • provides you with a picture of their current knowledge
  • provides a physical representation of the learners knowledge
    to compare with later learning

What is a concept map?

A concept map is a structured brainstorm that has specific prompts. In this case, these prompts are used to describe what an object ‘is’, ‘has’, ‘does’ and where it is ‘found’.

The concept map template below uses the context of learning about a Curriculum Vitae (CV).

How to use a concept map

  • The concept map can be completed on a whiteboard by the tutor or by learners in groups or individually. It has a specific structure as illustrated in this example.
  • If using groups, have groups of three to four complete one prompt before moving to the next.
  • For example on the following concept map, learners would complete ‘A CV is...’ before moving on to ‘A CV has...’. Give learners a time limit (one to two minutes) before moving to next prompt.

The concept map below illustrates how the map might look after learners have worked through all of the prompts.

Note that each prompt aligns with a specific category. These categories can be used to provide further structure to writing frames and/or speaking frames.

Key literacy outcomes

The structure provided in the concept map can be used to provide further structure to writing frames and/or speaking frames.

Keeping your learners concept maps will allow you to compare it with later concept maps on the same topic.



If you have any comments please contact us.

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