Concept mapping as means to critical thinking

  • Karl Cottenie
  • Marianne Staempfli
Keywords: concept mapping, critical thinking, teaching, learning, higher education


This article describes a study conducted to evaluate the relationship between concept mapping and its ability to foster critical thinking in students during face-to-face and distance education classes in higher education environments. Students were introduced to the construction of concept maps at the beginning of the semester at which time a baseline score of their critical thinking (CT) was measured.  Over the course of one semester student progress was monitored and evaluated on clarity and content of subsequent mapping exercises. At the end of the semester, CT baseline scores were compared to end of semester CT scores and a significant improvement in CT scores could be observed independent of course specific map content. Rooted within constructivist thought it is believed that visually representing thoughts and relationships of past and newly gained knowledge encourages students to think critically and thus facilitate meaningful learning to take place.