Facilitate learning through mind mapping

Their quest is outlined. Examples are given. The purpose is revealed. They are presented with the task.

“But that’s a lot!”

What are they to do? Create a mind map of the past two years of study in IB Biology. There are 6 core topics for Standard Level and 11 core topics for Higher Level plus two options for each group. Nearly every topic links to the others. On their sheet of paper the student teams are to record all the assessment statements with words, diagrams, figures, symbols, and pictures and then make as many connections between them as possible, indicating on joining lines what the relationships are.

At first they take to the task with the end goal in mind. They just “want to get the mind map done” but then I reiterate the value of review and making connections in preparation for their IB exams and I explain that they will not be assessed on the mind map itself. They will take an exam and be able to refer to their (and only their) mind map when taking the exam.


Seriousness and intensity settle on the group. They bend over their texts, notes, and mind maps with greater purpose. Discussions over potential connections ensue. Before they know it, the class is over. As they roll up their maps they make plans as to how they will proceed during the next session.

The value of this “hands-on” collaborative activity is multi-faceted. The purposes of mind mapping include but are not limited to (1):

  1. Enhancing memory (everyone wants this, right?)
  2. Enhancing learning (so, if it was missed it the first time, maybe they’ll get it this time!)
  3. Helping in planning and organizing (students will know what they need to study for the IB exam)
  4. Improving writing skills (which will help students better communicate on the IB Exams)
  5. Encouraging critical thinking and problem solving skills (which will help students on the IB Exams)

Do not underestimate the power of mind mapping! It is worth class time to allow students to work towards building the connections within their studies. 

(1) Mind Mapping in Education. (2012, January 1). Retrieved February 24, 2015, from http://www.mindmapping.com/mind-mapping-in-education.php

Another resource, created by the ThinkBuzan company and linked here, references and outlines the scientific evidence for the value of mind mapping.