Mind-Maps: Reflective Devices Making Learning Visible

  • Leslie La Croix George Mason University


Location: JC Room G

Mind-maps are reflective devices that invite participants to create visual representations of essential concepts explored in specific courses. The open-ended nature of the mind-mapping activity affords students opportunities to demonstrate current understandings, conceptualizations, and relationships that may not be as recognizable through other means (Hoeft, et al., 2003). Moreover, instructors may leverage the mind-mapping strategy to gain insight into particular concepts students articulate as they reflect on their emerging understandings. I embed mind-maps as a reflective device in two early childhood education courses. I use a similar prompt in each course guiding students to think beyond their immediate class experience and envision the practices and ideals they plan to embrace (or avoid) in the future. I introduce mind-mapping the second class session, revisit the maps midway through the course and again at the end of the semester. Students use a different color marker each time they revisit their mind-map. The sequential color representation makes visible for students and instructors when essential understandings begin to emerge. The recursive mapping experiences underscore growth mindsets and create a safe place where students articulate ideas they believe are relevant. Knowing they have future opportunities to elaborate and revise their mind-maps allows students the freedom to flexibly shift and refine their thinking without judgement. During the demonstration, I will provide an overview of the mind-mapping strategy. I will share examples studentsâ maps, to illustrate evolving understandings, and highlight how instructors can monitor mind-maps to inform instruction and ensure students are representing essential understandings.

Author Biography

Leslie La Croix, George Mason University

Dr. Leslie La Croix is an Assistant Professor in the Early Childhood Education Program at George Mason University. Her research focuses on preparing early educators to work with diverse young learners.

3:05pm-3:20pm Teaching Activity Showcase