Concept maps can be used as both a cognitive and constructivist learning strategy in teaching and learning in adult education and human resource development. The maps can be used to understand course readings, analyze case studies, develop reflective thinking and enhance research skills. The creation of concept maps can also be supported by the use of the CmapTools software. Concept maps, a teaching and learning strategy developed by Novak and Gowin (1984) based on the work of David Ausubel, (1963, 2000), have been used in education for over 25 years. There is an in-depth theoretical and research base that supports the use of concept maps in facilitating student learning across age groups, professional disciplines, educational contexts and geographic contexts (Canas, Coffey, Carnot, Feltovich, Hoffman, Feltovich, & Novak, 2003; Novak & Canas, 2006a). In addition, for the past six years concept mapping research from around the world has been presented at the International Concept Mapping Conference (see: http://cmc.ihmc.us/). Yet, the use of concept maps in adult education and human resource development (AE/HRD) has been limited to date. The purpose of this essay is to describe concept maps as a teaching and learning strategy and to discuss their potential application to graduate programs in AE/HRD. Concept Maps: What are They? Concept maps can be considered both a cognitive and constructivist learning strategy. Based on Ausubel, Novak and Hanesian's (1986) view of cognitive learning, when learners create concept maps they are focusing on determining relationships between and among concepts within their cognitive structures. They are also adding newly learned concepts to their existing cognitive structures. When the focus of the map is on depicting the relationships between concepts, a cognitive view of learning is operationalized. However, the focus of the map can also include linking concepts to lived experiences or linking lived experiences to each other. When the learner takes this approach the map tends to be more of a constructivist learning strategy that can be used to foster reflective thinking and analysis.

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