Instructional Science

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 53–73 | Cite as

Concept mapping as a follow-up strategy to learning from texts: what characterizes good and poor mappers?

  • Tatjana S. HilbertEmail author
  • Alexander Renkl


Concept maps consist of nodes that represent concepts and links that represent relationships between concepts. Various studies have shown that concept mapping fosters meaningful learning. However, little is known about the specific cognitive processes that are responsible for such mapping effects. In a thinking-aloud study, we analyzed the relations between cognitive processes during concept mapping as well as the characteristics of the concept maps that the learners produced and learning outcomes (38 university students). To test whether differences in learning outcome are due to differences in general abilities, verbal and spatial abilities were also assessed. In a cluster-analysis two types of ineffective learners were identified: ‘non-labeling mappers’ and ‘non-planning mappers’. Effective learners, in contrast, showed much effort in planning their mapping process and constructing a coherent concept map. These strategies were more evident in students with prior concept-mapping experience (‘advanced beginners’) than in those who had not used this learning strategy before (‘successful beginners’). Based on the present findings, suggestions for a direct training approach (i.e., strategy training with worked-out examples) and an indirect training approach (i.e., supporting the learners with strategy prompts) were developed.


Concept map Mapping Learning strategy Training Learning from texts Thinking aloud 



We thank our student research assistants Annelie Rothe, Sebastian Sommer, and Marco Wittmann for their assistance in the transcription of the thinking-aloud protocols and in the analysis of the data. We also thank Marcia Neff and Aimee Holmes for proofreading.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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