By: Grace Godwin
Most people learn best when knowledge is presented to them visually, especially when it involves vibrant colours and images. About 65% of the population are visual learners, which means that today’s educators should strive to implement visual learning tools into lessons and lectures. One such tool is mind mapping for learning, which is one of the most effective ways to enhance the learning experience so that it is both enjoyable and effective.
The benefits of mind mapping for learning
Mind mapping has been shown to both enhance the process of learning, and improve memory and retention by integrating the user into the process required to attain and remember new information in a manner not possible through text-based learning. In other words, mind maps make learning easier and more enjoyable through collaboration between the user and the map.
Based on the results of several mind mapping studies, it is clear that conventional learning tools lack several key advantages that a mind map can offer. Flashcards and traditional note-taking engage only a fraction of our brains compared to an interactive mind map. The act of simply creating the map helps to incorporate the user into the learning process, and it uses both the left and right hemispheres of the brain to make for an optimal experience.
It is a known fact that not everyone learns the same way—some people are better with visual cues, while others benefit from auditory stimulation. Mind maps are effective learning tools for these different learning styles because they can incorporate various ways of presenting information, and can be customized to the unique needs of the users.
How mind maps help students with learning disabilities
For those among us who struggle with a learning disability, mind mapping in education can be especially valuable in helping us accomplish our goals. Students with dyslexia, for example, often have a hard time retaining and processing short-term information. Various aspects of mind mapping, such as the colorful main points and their connections, can help dyslexic learners better understand and remember the relevant facts and ideas needed to master a topic.
It is estimated that around 10-15% of the population struggles with some form of dyslexia, which is a disorder that affects information processing in relation to reading, writing, and spelling. The condition is ongoing and can be a roadblock for many people as they navigate throughout their learning process in school, business, and life tasks in general. Those with dyslexia often have deficits in the brain’s working memory and struggle with a slower cognitive processing speed. Common activities in school and business like outlining written documents, analyzing written information, organizing thoughts in a text document, or even memory recall and decision making can all be negatively impacted due to dyslexia.
Mind mapping can help students and professional with dyslexia by enabling them to easily divide topics into clear and manageable chunks of information. The inherent structure of a mind map, that radiates out from a central topic using lines, relations, shapes, and colours helps to turn monotonous information into a visually engaging document that is much easier to understand and manipulate. Students and professionals with dyslexia find this type of diagram particular useful when solving problems, organizing thoughts, or making confident observations or decisions about bodies of information.
Similarly, people with Asperger’s or Autism are able to understand concepts and information more effectively when it is presented to them visually. Breaking down the sum of a concept into smaller, visual parts helps these students understand the big picture much more effectively as they are able to see how each individual part ties together. For most people, and particularly those with Asperger’s or Autism, trying to understand critical information presented in a monotonous and colourless way is simply ineffective. Mind maps help with this process by incorporating visual cues and making it easier to connect small details in order to better understand the overarching topic or idea.
How mind maps help learning for all students
Mind mapping has the ability to create better learning opportunities for virtually everyone. This is particularly true for students looking for alternative methods of study and research, or those who benefit from a more visual style of learning.
Taking notes can be boring— this is something all students can agree on. Regardless of education level, be it high school or graduate school, there is always that one class that is either highly complex or extremely monotonous (or both). Anyone reading this is sure to relate. The relevant information goes in one ear and out the other.
With mind mapping, students are relieved of the dull colors and linear knowledge that is common in classroom note taking. The classic pen and paper, although useful, are replaced by vibrant shapes and icons that can be adjusted to suit the needs and style of the user. Mind maps were created to advance and evolve the process of learning. Like everything else in our fast-paced lives, the way we acquire knowledge is growing and changing, and mind mapping is the perfect tool to keep up with that change.
Mind maps can also benefit educators by helping them communicate ideas to their students as well as their colleagues. Complex topics and course structures become less overwhelming when all the information is laid out in one aesthetically pleasing space. Students who tend to struggle with the fast-paced environment of school classrooms, or have difficulty drawing connections between different lessons and subjects, can particularly benefit from a mind map structure.
About the Author: Grace is an intern with Corel Corporation, and a college senior currently working towards completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She has a strong passion for writing and market research, and has joined the Corel team on a part-time basis to contribute to the MindManager Blog.