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SSI2-110: Examining Dogs Through the Lens of Science

Concept Mapping Assignment

Hello all! We will be meeting (online!) next Tuesday the 31st during your regular classtime to talk about your upcoming independent research project on a topic of your choice about dogs. 

When getting started researching a topic, I often find it useful to begin by creating a concept map so I can start to work through the topic in my head. Since we'll be spending some time together on Tuesday doing some exploratory searching on your topics, it will be helpful if you've done a little bit of thinking and brainstorming about your topic before then.  

So, please do the following by 9pm on Monday, 3/30/2020:

  1. Watch this three minute video of me talking about concept maps: 
  2. Create a concept map about your topic (either draw one by hand on paper or use one of the online concept mapping tools linked below); 
  3. Share a picture of that concept map (if you drew it by hand, just take a picture of it; if you used an online tool take a screenshot of it) in this Google Drive Folder: SSI2 Dogs Spring 2020 Concept MapsPlease name that picture with your topic and your name (e.g "Mini Therapy Horses Concept Map by Eli Gandour-Rood"). You'll see I've put three brief example concept maps in the folder.

Don't think stress or spend too much time on this! 5-10 minutes is totally reasonable. If we were meeting in person I would have you draw one by hand; you are still welcome to do that! Since we are now conducting class remotely, I thought I would also share some online tools that can be fun to use.

Below is some more information about concept maps; if you haven't made one before, take a look to see what they're all about. 

Contact me at if you have any questions about this! I'll also be online from 3-4pm on Friday 3/27 and on Sunday 3/29 answering chat questions live if you want to chat: just click here to be connected (if you click this link at another time, you'll be connected with a librarian, it just won't necessarily be me!) 

Concept Mapping

Concept maps are a tool to help you:

  • explore your topic;
  • discover possible lines of inquiry;
  • consider search terms;
  • brainstorm resources to investigate.

Ask yourself: what do I already know about my topic? what am I curious about? what kind of data do I need, and where am I likely to find that data?

From a disciplinary perspective, think about what kind of questions scholars and experts in that discipline are interested in, and how they would ask those questions or measure their findings. What types of measurements will they be taking? 

Finally, consider what you know about the resources available to you, and the types of sources that would be most helpful for you, and where might be most fruitful for you to begin your search. Are you looking for primary sources, such as newspaper articles? Do you need contemporary news articles or historical ones? If you're following up on the scholarly conversation around your topic, do you need to look for work by historians? Scientists? Sociologists? 

The process is simple: start with a subject in the center, then:

  • In the space around the central concept, write words or phrases for any relevant subtopics.
  • For each of your focus subtopics, add related terms/concepts to your map.
  • Continue to fill out your branches with ideas or questions about your topic, or about the types of resources you may wish to start with. 


What is a concept map?

A concept map is:

  • a visual tool for generating and organizing ideas
  • a way to explore different aspects of a topic
  • a method for triggering word associations

Use a concept map to:

  • aid thinking at the beginning of the research process
  • create a visual overview of a topic
  • develop questions on a topic
  • reveal patterns, themes, and associations between ideas
  • generate search terms to conduct research