Kelvin & Wendy: Concept Mapping Tutorial: Glossary
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Concept Mapping Glossary

Cognitive structure

Refers to the way that knowledge is arranged in the mind. In particular, how knowledge about a particular topic is arranged.


A component of knowledge. A label which refers to a class of other objects, events, etc. Novak says, "there are various shapes and kinds of things we call a chair, but once a child acquires the concept chair, that child will label correctly almost anything with a seat, back, and legs as a chair" (Novak, 1998, p. 21).

In Novak-type concept maps, concepts are represented as labelled ovals ("nodes" in a network structure).


Novak-type concept maps are read from top to bottom with concepts toward the top of the map being more general or more inclusive than concepts toward the bottom. The direction of two concepts at approximately the same level is usually indicated by placing an arrowhead on the line connecting two concepts.

Linking words

Linking words express the specific type of relationship that one concept has with another. This is a key distinction of Novak-type concept mapping from different (but related) diagrammatic expressions (e.g., semantic networks or mind mapping).


A statement that affirms or denies something. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000)
In Novak-type concept maps, a proposition results from reading two concepts connected by a link. A proposition can be true (valid) or false (invalid).

Joseph Novak

Professor Emeritus at Cornell University who developed what this web site refers to as "Novak-type concept mapping." Based on the Meaningful Verbal Learning theory of David Ausubel, Novak's concept mapping debuted in his 1984 book Learning How to Learn. Research articles too numerous to mention form a foundation for Novak's approach to concept mapping, but many ideas are summarized in his 1998 book Learning, Creating, and Using Knowledge: Concept Maps as Facilitative Tools in Schools and Corporations.



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Page Created: December, 2002
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Author: Kelvin Thompson
at University of Central Florida