Yes, a Concept Map Can be Used in Human Sexuality Education?

Concept Mapping

As a graduate student, I am always looking for ways to organize my thoughts for research papers and projects. I always think back to the days I was a high school student and had to organize new concepts in science class. Concept maps were always a good option for me; I had a resource other than my notes and textbook to refer to when studying for a test. My teachers also utilized concept maps to assess learning.

What are Concept Maps?

According to Carnegie Mellon, concept maps are a representation of students’ knowledge through the use of a specialized map that can help students organize their thoughts and represent knowledge. The concepts are words in circles or boxes and a line represents the relationship between concepts. Concept maps can also be incorporated into the human sexuality classroom; students could create a concept map to discuss the various methods of birth control, how they are used, what the types are, how they are aquired, etc. as a way to organize their thinking about contraception.

Essential questions to ask when creating a concept map

Steps in Creating a Concept Map

The Merrill-Cazier Library offers steps on how to create a concept map: For the purpose of this post, I will relate the example to human sexuality education.

Step 1: Identify the general/broad topic that you are interested in.
Example: Birth control methods

Step 2: Brainstorm on the general topic and list all the concepts and themes that are related to the topic on a large piece of paper. Keep the concepts as concise as possible.
Example: Oral contraceptives, barrier methods, condoms, surgical, male, female, hormonal, injectable, trans-dermal, emergency, sub dermal, coitus interrupts, coitus reservatus, coitus obstructus, and natural family planning

Step 3: Using unlined paper, write the main theme in the center of the page.
Example: Birth Control Methods

Step 4: Take the other concepts identified in the brainstorming and connect them to the center concept. You can use other organizational patterns such as branches, arrows or groups. More important ideas should be put nearer to the center and less important ones closer to the edge. Identify the relationship between the concepts.

Step 5: After the map has been created, look at the organizational patterns to see if the pieces fit together and make sense and if there is anything missing. After the map has been created, look at the organizational patterns to see if the pieces fit together and make sense and if there is anything missing.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Concept Mapping

The Assessment Resource Center shares both the advantages of using concept maps. The advantages outweigh the disadvantage of using concept maps. A major disadvantage of concept mapping is that it may seem intimidating to students if they have not utilized a concept map in the past. Advantages of concept mapping are that:

  • it encourages collaborative learning and team knowledge mapping
  • it allows for deep learning
  • it is easier to understand and retain information since they are graphic
  • it can be done in groups or individually
  • it mirrors what business utilize to create new ideas
  • it is an active assessment

By using concept maps, teachers are able to include different types of learners. Auditory learners can listen to the information the teacher is providing or they can listen to a narration of the information and create their map based on that information. Visual learners have the advantage of utilizing the concept map to learn, while kinesthetic learners are learning through writing the information on their concept map.

Additional Resources:

10 responses to “Yes, a Concept Map Can be Used in Human Sexuality Education?

  1. Thanks for talking about such a great tool! I think concept maps are often over-looked, but it seems like a very simple, comprehensible, and intuitive mode of instruction. I like that you listed several different advantages, as it highlighted things I hadn’t thought of, such as using a concept map as an active assessment. Have you looked into computer programs that generate concept maps?

  2. Krissy,
    This is neat! I think I’ve used concept maps countless times without recognizing them as potential teaching tools. I think it can also be a great way to encourage students to organize their thoughts for paper-writing or other assignments. And I really like the “no rules” aspect of concept mapping; as you said, you can use branches, arrows, groups – there’s a ton of ways to organize and articulate information and it can be flexible for different learners.

  3. Krissy, this is a new concept to me and never thought of using a concept map to organize my notes or ideas. I agree this can be a useful tool because it can help people with the various learning styles decode and reorganize information a way which is help and which can benefit them in their particular learning style. I am a visual learner and in the past I would rewrite notes to help myself study. Thank you for a new approach to helping me study and gather information.

  4. Hey Krissy,

    Awesome job. Wow, what a great teaching tool for sexuality education! I so wish that my teacher used this back in the day when we learned about birth control. I also never thought about how concept mapping can be used to promote deep learning, in that students can start to form connections between concepts, and create new ideas or understandings about a concept. This could also work with a lot of other topics in sexuality education as well, even when teaching about for example, relationships and decision-making, which is great. I’ll be using this in the future. Thanks for the post, Krissy!


  5. I’m now interested in using concepts maps. I only thought about concept maps in terms of studying. I never used them but was always interested in doing so. I definitely did not think to use it as a teaching tool! I especially like the fact that it allows itself to relate to many different kinds of learners. I guess I should learn to use them so I can teach my learners. I can see this working for all age groups, even my younger adolescent can use ti to talk about puberty! Maybe we could one for girls, boys, and then look at the previous two and design one for both genders! I may need to alter my lesson. i’m thinking how I would you use it for STIs for my male group next week. Thanks for the idea Krissy!

  6. I can certainly see how concept maps would work with logical-mathematical and visual-spatial learners, but I wonder if they would be as effective with linguistic or interpersonal learners (or musical learners, for that matter). In teaching sexuality, I imagine that one would also have to create very flexible map spaces to allow for concepts to overlap. For instance, one of our exercises in 643 was to place different types of birth control into categories and what we found was that they didn’t all neatly fit into just one or another. This would, of course, be a “teachable moment” as the class could work together to create appropriate categories in which to put each item.

    For me, the biggest appeal of concept maps is that they work both as individual assessments and group assessments (with the usual caveat that the group not depend too much on the work of one or two members). It might also be interesting to have individuals begin their own maps, then put them into groups to consolidate their maps, then share the groups’ maps with the class as a whole, creating a meta-map that synthesizes the work of the entire class. I like to do something similar, but not as visual-spatial, in the writing classroom.

  7. HI Krissy,

    great mapping! I think that many young learners get overwhelmed when we as educators don’t map. Often times some students get nervous because they can’t see where they are going. A syllabus may inform you, but a map gives you a visual perspective. When I’m driving and someone gives me bad instructions I get extremely frustrated. There have been times I considered turning around. There is nothing worse than feeling lost and confused. The subject of sexuality has to be one of the most compelling subjects and we need more maps! They don’t have to be a perfect science but a good direction where to take your thoughts, lessons and ideals certainly makes life a little more comfortable.

  8. Thanks for this post Krissy! I remember using concept maps when I was in elementary and middle school, but I have not utilized them in quite a while. To be honest, I think I forgot about them. I do remember them being very useful for me though, and I think they would be a great addition to any classroom. This tool is very useful for people who have trouble organizing all of their thoughts; writing them down in this way can help the learner really narrow down their topic and what they want to cover.
    Often times I’ve found myself struggling on what to focus on in a paper because I have so much information. This tool can really help pare those ideas down, so I can flesh out what should be covered in the paper. Great topic!

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