Key in building concept maps is the selection of appropriate linking words when constructing propositions. In fact, experienced concept mappers comment that they often spend a considerable amount of time analyzing different linking words deciding which better expresses their understanding of the relation between the two concepts. Well-selected linking words help clarify concepts, their meanings and relationships.
Consider the following list of propositions:
Birds have Hollow Bones
Energy is the capacity to do Work
Learning can take place through Apprenticeship
Credibility is the basis for Good Journalism
Successful Businesses create Wealth
Increase in Rainfall may cause Flooding
Notice that in each of these propositions can be read independently and understood, even though the context of the proposition is not clearly stated. For this reason, they are sometimes called semantic units, or units of meaning.
The following is a list of badly formed propositions, since they don't convey any meaning:
House of Cards
Birds in Trees
Fruit for example Apple
Education with Meaningful Learning
Exercise for Health
What does "Birds in Trees" tell us? Not much. What was the meaning that was meant to be conveyed with this proposition, maybe that "Birds live in Trees"? or that "Birds build Nests in Trees"? Adding a verb (live, build) changes the statement into a unit of meaning, into a proposition that makes sense on its own and conveys knowledge. The other entries in this list also lack good linking words that better describe the relationship between the corresponding concepts.
You probably have figured out by now that good linking words include a verb. But including a verb, although almost a requirement, is not enough to build a good linking words. Consider the proposition:
Trees have Leaves
It is correct, and conveys the idea: Leaves are part of a Tree. But we can improve the meaning if we use different linking words, as in:
Trees grow Leaves
Trees drop Leaves
Trees need Leaves
Each of these three propositions convey a different idea, all of which are valid and true. And the linking words grow, drop, and need are more specific and communicate a clearer explanation than have. Which one you use depends on the context, that is, on the concept map and what the concept map is about (the concept map's focus question, as we'll see later in the tutorials). For example, if the concept map is about the Fall season, then drop is probably the most appropriate linking word.
Lets try a short exercise on constructing a proposition.
Click here to continue with the tutorial.