Monday, March 31, 2014

Mind Mapping for Research and Notes

There are several different methods for taking notes. In college, this author used the Harvard method almost exclusively. This author hadn’t learned any other methods for taking notes, and it seemed to work okay. Usually when taking notes, people end up with pages of detail on each specific sub-topic. However, there is not any overall picture of how these bits of information fit together in the main topic or with each other. This article will discuss a method for taking notes that will overcome this shortcoming of traditional note taking. This form of taking notes is called Mind Mapping, Concept Mapping, Spray Diagrams, or Spider Diagrams. Note: “Mind Map” is a trademark of the Buzan Organization ( There is no association between Sorenson’s Ranch School and Buzan. Mind Maps were developed by Tony Buzan. They are useful for brainstorming, summarizing, consolidating, studying, memorizing, and thinking through information. Drawing a mind map is simple. Write the main topic in the center of a page, and circle it. Then, draw lines out from the main topic and write sub-topics on the lines. More detail can be added to the sub-topics by drawing further lines out from the primary sub-topics. Effective mind maps can be drawn by using single words/simple phrases, printing words, using colors to differentiate separate ideas from one another, and linking sub-topics with lines to show relationships between them. Working as a teacher in a high school/middle school environment such as Sorenson’s Ranch School makes Mind Mapping especially useful to help students who don’t organize information well. This method of note taking makes a huge improvement in retention of information and reduces frustration with learning about subjects in classes, in this author’s experience. Mind maps generally take up one side of one page, and are meant to make associations, as well as generate new ideas. Students can also add to a mind map once new information is discovered on the topic. So, start with a new subject you are interested in researching, and start mind mapping.