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Concept map templates are pretty well known all over the world as they have been around for years now. These innovative tools for learning and organizing information were created by Gowin and Novak way back in 1984. By definition, they are a schematic which can be used to represent a group of concept meanings which are set in a framework of plans. All these concepts are linked and related with one another and are all related to the main topic or thought.

Nursing concept map templates are now being used to strengthen the science of education in the field for more than 25 years. When these maps are created, the student or learner would go through three processes:

  • The learner would have to establish or identify the concepts which are part of the main topic.
  • The learner would have to place the broader or more general concepts are the very top of the map and the more specific concepts below them. Then the learner would have to link the general and specific concepts together with linking words which would represent a specific meaning.
  • The learner would have to look for other links or interconnections from one side of the map to the other and all around. The learner would then make use of connecting words between them as a way to combine the developing knowledge.

Downloadable Templates:

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Nursing students typically need to have a good understanding of larger topics or questions as well as all the problems in the field they had chosen. Without understanding, effective and profound learning will never take place and that’s why maps are very useful in cases like these. Knowledge and concepts are broken down and a visual representation is created, which may lead to a better understanding. Learning using these tools can also lead to meaningful learning as it promotes critical thinking and reasoning.

This kind of teaching tool is not only effective, but it can also be a lot of fun. Also as another added bonus, there are plenty of free concept map templates online which are available to anyone with access to the internet. So if you want to start making your own map, you can either make one yourself (which we will be discussing further on) or simply download one and start editing!

Benefits of Making and Using Concept Map Templates

There are many benefits to making and using concept map templates in learning and even in the professional setting. When you have something new to learn in your profession, no matter what your profession is, you can use such maps to learn the concept or skill better. Here are the different benefits:

  • It can guide you when you are tasked to make a presentation. You will be able to make a presentation quite easily since these kinds of maps are very organized and logical. When you use the format to create your presentation, you might find that collecting all the information and organizing it logically makes things a lot simpler.
  • It permits quick and easy interpretation of facts and information. Using such a map would allow you and everyone else who will be reading the it will be able to understand and interpret what’s presented quickly. Since the presentation is visual, the concepts are linked more easily hence more easily comprehended too. This is very useful, both in educational and professional settings.
  • It shows the hierarchy of ideas and concepts. This learning tool aids in getting people to understand the hierarchy of ideas and concepts as the relation of each of the components to the others is visually presented, making it easy to understand.
  • It helps in visualizing results or outcomes. Since these maps are visual in nature, the results and outcomes can be easily seen and understood. Therefore when decisions need to be made, they can be made a lot easier and with fewer complications.
  • It makes evaluation easier. These kinds of learning tools can be used for evaluation. When a concept is taught or knowledge is shared, the learners can be asked to make such a map to check and evaluate whether they fully understood what they had learned.
  • It can help learners brainstorm on a topic and come up with new and fresh ideas.
  • It encourages learners to do research to be able to discover new facts and concepts then link them to one another.
  • It allows for better and clearer communication of thoughts, knowledge, ideas, and information.
  • It helps learners connect and integrate new facts and concepts with those they already knew.
  • It enables learners to gain even more knowledge and evaluate what they have learned on their own.
  • It deepens the learning process, making the information last longer.

There are really a lot of benefits of making and using these templates whether you make them from scratch or opt to work on a free concept map template. Now let’s take a look at the different types.

Types of Concept Maps

If you are planning to make this kind of tool to aid you in your learning process, it would be very helpful to learn the different types and formats you can use. In doing this, you will be able to determine which type would be most ideal for the concept, question or idea you will be learning about. 

Spider Map

This is basically when you place the main concept in the middle and work outwards as you add concepts, ideas and information. This type of map is easy to make, easy to read and all the data in it is organized around a central theme. 

Hierarchical Map

This is a chronological type of map which follows a definite pattern and is sequenced according to importance or time when the facts or information have happened. Typically all the general data is written at the top and as it moves down, the information becomes more specific.

Flowchart Map

This is a more linear approach to making a map. It is very easy to read as the data is organized in a very orderly and logical way. 

Systems Map

This kind of map is very detailed and very complete. It may be a bit more complicated to make as it would include all the possible data as well as all the relationships between them. Making this king of map would require a lot of critical thinking and problem solving skills.

These are the most common types of maps but you can actually create your own or revise these as you see fit. The important thing is that when you’re making one, you would have to gain a better understanding of the topic or question.

How to Make the 3 Most Common Types of Concept Map Templates 

To guide you in making effective concept maps, you may need to follow these helpful steps. We’ve come up with guides for you to start making three of the most common types of free concept map templates.


Think about your main concept and find a way to word it well. Place your main concept at the very top of your map and place it inside an oval or a circle. Now from that main concept, come up with a list of concepts, words, facts or ideas which are related to the concept. For more complicated topics, you can start doing additional research to add content to your map.

Once you have your list, pick out the most relevant words or phrases from them and write them right under your main word. Enclose those words then link them to the main word using arrows. When you’re done with that, find the next relevant words or phrases and repeat the process. You can also connect the words and phrases to each other if you find that they are related or connected.

Link all the words and phrases together and try to explain the relationships between them. Keep adding lines when you see relations and at the end of it, you would have gained a better understanding of the main concept.


Write your main topic at the very middle of your map as this type is arranged like a spider web, with subtopics branching out, hence the name. The main topic should be written with bigger letters and should be inside a big circle or oval. Once you have your main topic in the middle, you can move on to making your subtopics.

Brainstorm on subtopics which you can link to your main topic. These subtopics must be very relevant to your main topic and you should write them all around the circle of your main topic. Also make sure that there is enough space around your subtopics as you will again be surrounding them with words or phrases.

Once you have all your subtopics, encircle them and link them to the main topic using lines. If you think that your subtopics are related to each other, you can also link them together using lines and arrows.

Unless you have a really big space to make your whole map, it would be a good idea to stick with only a few subtopics. If you have a long list, pick the most relevant ones and work with those. Otherwise, you may not have enough space to branch out further or your map might be a bit too crowded, making it confusing to those who will be reading it, even you!

For each of the subtopics, you would have to start thinking of supporting topics which you can write around them. They can be single words or short phrases which would be relevant to the subtopics. Each and every subtopics must have their own set of supporting topics, though they don’t have to have the same number of supporting topics each. As you are moving from the main topic, the letter sizes and the circles/ovals should be getting smaller so all of the data will fit into your map.

You can opt to stop at this step or you can go further and make your spider map as detailed and as specific as you want it to be. As long as you have the space and you don’t compromise the clarity of the information which is written on the map, you can keep on going.

You can add more words or information around your supporting topics then keep on going until your map is complete. Also keep on connecting and linking the topics with lines and arrows to show that there is a connection or a relation between them. Chances are, when you’re done making this map (especially if you keep going until the most specific of details), you would have already gained a very good understanding of the main concept or topic which you had started with. It’s important to note that when you’re making this type of map by hand, your handwriting needs to be very clear and legible so it can be read easily. 


Choose the point where you will begin. This would usually be a question or a problem which would need to be solved or answered. A flowchart would allow you to thoroughly examine a whole process and discover different options for completing it. Flowcharts are typically linear, meaning they would simply flow from one concept to the next. However, if you have a more complicated problem, you can come up with a number of elements in order to inspect different outcomes. So let’s go back to your starting point.

Think about it then write it at the very top of your map. Usually, flowcharts use boxes rather than circles like in a spider map.First write down the easiest and most obvious solution or answer under your starting point. Then under that, write down two outcomes (usually yes or no). If the outcome is good and the problem is solved, then you can connect it to a box which says “problem solved” or something similar. If the outcome is not good, then you would have to connect it to a box which has a different answer or solution.

Keep on repeating this step as long as you have thought of different solutions or answers to the problem. The good outcome would connect to a box which isn’t connected to anything else while the bad outcome would either connect to a box with a new solution or answer or to a box which says “the problem cannot be solved,” if you want to add an option like that.

From the starting point, you can place just one option under it or you can place 2 or 3 answers or solutions to the problem or question, especially if the solutions are very different in nature. Then you can continue with the rest of the steps listed above until you are done with your flowchart.

These are the most commonly used kinds of maps which you can start making on your own. As you can see, you would first have to start with your main concept, topic or problem then move on to more specific ones until you have made a map which is filled with relevant information and data relevant to what you had started with. Making a good concept map template can actually be a very useful skill and the more you do it, the easier it will be for you.

Making a Nursing Concept Map Template 

It would be quite important to learn how to make a nursing concept map template, whether you care a nursing student who is trying to get through all those study materials or you are a practicing nurse who is trying to organize important information such as complaints of patients or others, which would help place all the information in the right context.

Nursing students and nurses would benefit a lot from making a good map which would serve as a visual representation of the data you know and the data you are still trying to learn. Let’s take a look at what it takes to make a good map for the purpose of using it in nursing or in the medical field.

When to Use It

Making such a map would encourage critical thinking and problem solving skills both for nursing students and for practicing nurses who are immersed in the medical field. Doing so would enhance the theoretical knowledge of nursing students which they have learned from their classes and be able to apply it in a real life case study in a very organized way. For nurses, making this map would be able to enhance an approach which is multidisciplinary in nature, which would permit them to have a holistic view of the patient as well as see all the links between different aspects of a particular patient or a particular illness.

What Structure to Use

In developing a map, you’d have to think about what type to use and what structure to use for it to be very effective. You may focus on a particular patient and move on to how you would be treating the illness he/she is afflicted with. Or you can start with an illness then move on to various treatments for it. Whatever structure you use, make sure it’s organized and you will be able to understand it easily.

Creating Your Map

When you are creating your map, the very first step would be to think about the main concept you will be focusing on. Whether it’s a patient, an illness or a concept you’d like to understand further in your studies, it should be the center or top of your map. Then you can come up with subtopics, supporting topic and such moving from a general topic to specific ones. Whether you’re a nurse or a nursing student,making such a map would be very useful and you would have to follow the same steps and guidelines to create one – only the information might vary.

Think About the Limitations

Though it’s extremely useful, this learning tool does have its limitation when used in the field of nursing or in such setting. The biggest limitation would be how the writing on the map is presented. It has to be written legibly and written well so that it will be understood. So in a fast paced environment, this can be a challenge. Another issue is that these maps can take a lot of time to make, time which they may not have especially as they are usually immersed in busy environments.


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