Biomedical Engineering: BIEN 1110 - Concept Mapping

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Mapping Your Topic

For any research project, developing a concept map can be useful for organizing ideas, identifying areas needing more investigation, charting new knowledge, & making connections between concepts within a topic. Some questions to ask when creating a concept map are:

  • What's the problem/desired solution?
  • What are the separate components of the problem or solution?
  • What do you need to know and what factors do you need to consider to solve the problem?
  • What disciplines are involved?
  • What solutions have been tried/are being used?
  • What regulations/standards may apply?
  • What information sources are available to help answer all of the above?

Life of a Concept Map

Here's an example of a student's concept map dealing with Human Factors and how it developed over time.

Initial Map

Concept map1 - initial map

Developing Map

Concept map 2 - developing map

Final Map

Concept map 3 - final map

 

 

J. Turns, C. J. Atman and R. Adams, "Concept Maps for Engineering Education: A Cognitively Motivated Tool Supporting Varied Assessment Functions," IEEE Trans Educ, vol. 43, pp. 164-173, May 2000.

Tips and Tools

Start by brainstorming ideas, aspects, influences, needs, etc.  There are a variety of ways to organize your map:

  • hierarchy
  • flow chart
  • wheel or daisy
  • outline
  • free-flowing

The only tools you really need is paper and pencil. One paper-and-pencil tactic is to write each idea/topic/subtopic on a separate post-it-note which can be easily arranged and rearranged as your topic develops. Automated options available that aid with creation, modification and sharing, such as:

The Literature Search

A concept map can help guide you in your literature search by identifying what disciplines you need to look to for information. Each discipline has unique sources that can provide background information, facts and data, descriptions of processes, formulas or models that could be helpful, and scholarly or trade articles. As you learn more from these sources you continue to refine and expand your concept map, adding new information and identifying additional areas for further exploration.  Eventually it becomes your knowledge map.

Remember to make use of the Libraries' Research Guides for various disciplines to guide you to appropriate sources.

Engineering Map

An interpretation of Engineering:

Map showing an interpretation of Engineering

 

J. Turns, C. J. Atman and R. Adams, "Concept Maps for Engineering Education: A Cognitively Motivated Tool Supporting Varied Assessment Functions," IEEE Trans Educ, vol. 43, pp. 164-173, May 2000.