social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2017

Since I first posted this 8 hours ago, my colleague Dr Hans Buskes (@hansbuskes) has been sending me various design questions and suggestions. I added a paragraph at the bottom in blue to clarify issues about controlling for mapping style. The addition is about 8 hours after the original post.

Yesterday, I posted on research designs and data and showing the effectiveness of mind maps. Here are some research questions I would like to see answered to “prove” the effectiveness of mind mapping in certain applications and how the degree of effectiveness may be tied to different models of mind mapping. A lot of discussion about the topic was started and continues on twitter.

This is a DRAFT because I would I like to see others add to my list and or make the questions better. Please add any additional research areas or other comments to this list.

I will not be involved in any mind map research myself. So this is not a self-serving list. Feel free to make it your own if you are going to do the work. I would personally accept good quantitative, qualitative, or mixed quantitative-qualitative research/evaluation data and study designs in making a judgment of degree of efficacy.

I am NOT talking about anecdotal or theoretical evidence or that based upon expert judgments. Nor am I talking about “user satisfaction” with various programs or seminars they attend. I AM talking about studies that pass the tests of scientific inquiry AND the “smell test” of reasonableness and relevance AND empirically assess the major outcomes the mind maps are designed to enhance.

If you need to see this list in a mind map format, I may add one later. Or draw one for yourself using your favorite method.

Note: you need not try to answer all of my questions in one study. Study something small if your want. A technique called meta-analysis that will combine the results of numerous studies, small and big, exists.

I invite anyone to answer some of my questions. I believe the methods do-will prove effective AND the research will pass the standards of PEER REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY. Feel free to make me look smart.

  1. Is the best of typology mind maps, in terms of features, theoretical basis, designs that of a) organic Buzan-type; b) linear business-type (Mindjet and others); c) a miscellaneous category of spider-maps, concept maps, and other techniques often used to produce “mind maps?” If not, produce one.
  2. Are each of the types of mind maps effective in producing increases in learning new information, retaining information in long-term memory, sparking creativity in individuals and groups, communicating to groups visually, increasing the effectiveness of verbal communications, allowing individuals to “write” with conceptual trees, providing better understanding of concepts?
  3. Are some of the methods better for some applications while others prove more effective for other types?
  4. Does an extant theory from cognitive psychology/neuroscience explain the results?
  5. How can existing methods be enhanced using information gained in the series of research studies?

Addition: Covariates — In the set of questions above I have not addressed the natural variations in mind maps that occur because of the way that the maps are stylistically designed. Because such design issues tend to be correlated with the content of the map, I would propose handling such issues as covariates within a research design. So, in addition to the questions above we should ask how the answers to the questions above are related to the map’s structure, ordering, colors, visuals, symtax/semantics, size, and content information elaboration. Note that Dr Buskes and I have discussed this for many weeks and that there are a number of posts on both of our blogs about these topics. Because we would be evaluating an intact whole cognitive element (an entire map), it would be important to “control” for such factors as size, color use, etc., at the same time these factors are studied in conjunction with major models as specified above.


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