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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 141-145

The effectiveness of mind mapping as a learning strategy in promoting information retrieval among II MBBS students

1 Department of Pathology, NRI Medical College, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Community Health, St. John's Medical College, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission12-May-2021
Date of Decision12-Feb-2022
Date of Acceptance19-Feb-2022
Date of Web Publication23-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. B Chaitra
Department of Pathology, NRI Medical College, Chinakakani - 522 503 Managalgiri Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/amhs.amhs_120_21

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In medical curriculum, shift to self-directed student-centered learning is required. The mind maps are multisensory tools that help students organize, integrate, and retain information. This study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of mind mapping in information retrieval and assess the perceptions of II MBBS students. An interventional crossover study conducted on II MBBS students who were divided into two equal groups. One group learned by conventional reading and the other group by mind mapping. The groups were swapped for the second topic. Knowledge gained assessed before the study, immediately after the session and after 1 month. The scores analyzed by independent t-test with P < 0.05 considered significant. Effect size was calculated and Cohen's d scores equal to 0.2 considered small effect, while 0.5 as moderate and 0.8 as large effect. A validated questionnaire used to assess perceptions of students. This study showed that the knowledge gained in immediate posttest and the information retrieved after 1 month for both topics were higher with mind mapping than traditional learning. Effect size also showed that mind mapping as more effective learning strategy over conventional reading. The majority of the students were positive toward mind mapping. It was evident from this study that the gain in knowledge and information retrieval is better by mind mapping. Students perceived mind mapping as a useful and effective learning strategy, which can be implemented as a routine method.

Keywords: Information retrieval, mind mapping, self-directed learning

How to cite this article:
Vaddatti T, Chaitra B, Kiran P, Renuka IV, Laxmi K, Potti R. The effectiveness of mind mapping as a learning strategy in promoting information retrieval among II MBBS students. Arch Med Health Sci 2022;10:141-5

How to cite this URL:
Vaddatti T, Chaitra B, Kiran P, Renuka IV, Laxmi K, Potti R. The effectiveness of mind mapping as a learning strategy in promoting information retrieval among II MBBS students. Arch Med Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 9];10:141-5. Available from: https://www.amhsjournal.org/text.asp?2022/10/1/141/347952

  Intaroduction Top

The amount of information that medical students are expected to master is voluminous.[1] In view of vast syllabus and change in medical curriculum to competency-based medical education (CBME), self-directed learning and a shift to student-centered innovative strategies are required. Thus, teachers must teach students the self-regulated processes that facilitate learning. These processes often include goal setting, planning, self-motivation, attention control, flexible use of learning strategies, self-monitoring, appropriate help-seeking, and self-evaluation.[2] Although several methods are available, the mind maps are the graphical way to represent ideas and concepts that help medical students organize, integrate, and retain information and are the most underutilized multisensory tools.[3]

Tony Buzan developed mind mapping which is a visuospatial multisensory tool for students that converts information from a variety of sources into diagrammatic representation of important keywords associated with a study topic.[4] The construction of mind map is simple. The main study topic is drawn at the center which extends into several major branches representing topic subheadings. The smaller branches projecting from subheadings give important detailed information. The details can be accompanied by images wherever possible. This process converts the information in passages of text into hierarchically organized pictorial representation with the most general information being presented in the center of the mind map and material of increasing detail being presented at the extremes. While reading the mind map, starting point is the central image and the branch to the top right-hand of the central image becomes the first branch inspected. When this branch has been inspected the other branches are covered in a similar manner, working in a clockwise fashion. Throughout the whole process, imagery, color, and the visual-spatial arrangement of the material are emphasized.[5]

There is a slight difference between mind maps and concept maps. Concept maps are organized in top-down hierarchical structures used to connect multiple concepts and their relationships, while mind maps focus on one concept. Concept map has tree structure with many branches and clusters, while mind map has radial structure with single topic. Arrows of concept map are labeled for representing the connection type with ancestral node, and in mind map, the arrows represent the relationship with ancestral node. There are several studies on concept map; in this study, we used mind maps as a learning strategy, which would help the students to improve their concepts and memory for a single topic.

Medical educators expressed concern that students memorize facts instead of understanding and applying concepts.[6] Hence, there is a revolution with change in medical education programs and teaching strategies to make a medical student responsible for their learning process and become active lifelong self-directed learner.[7] Mind maps are self-learning methods, which facilitate understanding of salient aspects and integration of concepts. It also promotes active learning. According to Farrand et al., mind maps improve memory for written information and have potential to increase efficacy.[8] Mind maps can be used as a teaching tool to promote critical thinking in medical education by encouraging students to integrate information between disciplines and understand the relationship between basic and clinical sciences. The added dimensions of pictures and colors that are unique to mind maps facilitate memory and this strategy benefits more students with diverse learning styles.[3]

Studies suggest incorporation of any of the above components into learning will definitely improve information retrieval. There are several studies in the literature which compared lecture-based learning with case-based learning, problem-based learning, evidence-based learning, and blended teaching methods.[9],[10],[11],[12] Literature review also reveals studies comparing problem-based learning and mind mapping. Only few studies in medical education emphasized mind map as learning strategy and compared with conventional method of learning. With the advent of curriculum-based medical education, the need for self-directed learning and deep learning is increasing; hence, the present study was performed not only to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of two learning strategies such as mind mapping and conventional reading among medical undergraduates and assess their perceptions but also to introduce this technique in medical education.

Aim and Objectives

  1. To evaluate the effectiveness of mind mapping in information retrieval
  2. To assess the perceptions of II MBBS students toward mind mapping as a learning strategy.

  Materials and Methods Top

Institutional ethical clearance was taken for the study. This is an interventional crossover study done among 144 students of II MBBS students who were divided into two equal groups A and B of 72 each. The study was conducted in the department of pathology. After a pretest, both the groups received a text passage of 1000 words on Cushing's syndrome and were allowed to read for 20 min. 2 h session on application and procedure of mind mapping was taken priorly for batch A. The students were allowed to construct a mind map on the topic of their choice to assess their ability to do mind map and queries answered. The batch A learned with mind mapping, while batch B by conventional reading. Then, an immediate posttest with the same set of MCQ was conducted for both batches. Then, the groups were swapped for the second topic on rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis (RPGN). Prior session on mind mapping was taken to the batch B. After pretest, group B learned by text passage of 1000 words in 20 min by mind mapping, while group A with conventional reading. Then, immediate posttest conducted. Later, the perceptions of all students toward mind mapping obtained by a validated questionnaire which included both open-ended questions and those with Likert scale. The questionnaire was prepared, face validation and content validation was done by a group of experts. The changes suggested were included in the questionnaire. Long-term retention assessed by the same set of MCQ after 1 month on both topics and groups. Each correct answer was awarded one mark, while the wrong answer was awarded zero marks. There was no negative marking. Gain in knowledge was calculated by deducting pretest scores from immediate posttest scores, while long-term gain in knowledge calculated by deducting pretest scores from long-term retention scores.

Inclusion criteria

All the II MBBS students.

Exclusion criteria

II MBBS students absent for any of the tests.

Statistical analysis

All the scores of pretest, immediate posttest and long-term retention test after 1 month were tabulated, the mean and standard deviation calculated. The data were then analyzed by independent t-test. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. The effect size was calculated and Cohen's d score equal to 0.2 considered small effect size, 0.5 as medium effect, and 0.8 as large effect.

  Results Top

A total of 112 II MBBS students were included in the study after considering inclusion and exclusion criteria. The means scores of the test scores were higher in the group with mind mapping. This study showed that the knowledge gained in immediate posttest and the information retrieved after 1 month for both topics were higher with mind mapping than traditional learning. The analysis of scores is depicted in [Table 1]. The P calculated for both topics was <0.05 and considered statistically significant. The P in both groups explains that knowledge gained and retained was significantly higher in the group with mind mapping as a learning strategy.
Table 1: Analysis of test scores and gain in knowledge of both groups

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The effect size was analyzed by calculating Cohen d, Glass delta, and Hedge g scores. Cohen d and Hedge g values equal to 0.2 considered small effect size, 0.5 as medium effect, and 0.8 as large effect. The analyses of these scores are depicted in [Table 2]. In the first topic of Cushing's syndrome, the effect size was moderate in the test after 1 month, and large in knowledge gained in immediate posttest and long term. For the second topic of RPGN, the effect size between the two groups was large in posttest after a month and moderate effect in gain in knowledge and retention. This suggests that mind map as a learning strategy is effective over conventional reading.
Table 2: Analysis of effect size in test scores and gain in knowledge among the groups

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The perceptions of students were assessed by both quantitative with Likert scale [Table 3] and qualitative with open-ended questions. For statistical reasons, the perceptions were classified as disagree, not decided, and agree. More than 90% of students felt that mind mapping made objectives clear, concepts were better understood, easy retrieval of information and is effective and interesting method. The majority of students agreed this as a joyful interactive method which is feasible to adapt and improves reasoning skills and critical thinking. Around 43% of students perceived mind mapping as time-consuming. The overall positive feedback was given by 88.84% of students for mind mapping.
Table 3: Analysis of students' perception toward mind mapping

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The most common responses on open-ended questions (qualitative) on mind mapping were:

An effective method to memorize, recall and retain information.

Takes time for preparation.

Need to habituate, introduce, and implement.

  Discussion Top

With the advent of CBME in medical curriculum, promoting self-regulated learning in classrooms is essential. The students are expected to do extensive literature reading and reach the highest level of knowledge in short span. However, to overcome th retaining problem, several methods have come in the modern era. Evaluation of the methods is necessary as they directly affect the performance and ability of students.[5]

This study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of mind mapping. At baseline test, the difference in mean knowledge score regarding the first topic (Cushing's syndrome) among the two groups was statistically significant, while for the second topic, RPGN was not significant statistically. This shows for the second topic, both groups had the same knowledge before intervention. The mean scores immediately after the intervention is higher in the mind map group than the conventional reading group, but statistical significance was found in topic 2. This could be explained by the significant difference in pretest among the group for topic 1. However, the knowledge gained immediately after the intervention was significantly higher for both topics among the mind map group than the other group. P was statistically significant. This was in concordance with the studies done by Bhat et al.[13] However, studies done by D'Antoni et al. and Kalyanasundaram et al. found the mean scores in immediate posttest were higher in the mind map group but not statistically significant, which can be attributed to small sample size and the difference in the level of students attaining proficiency in creating mind maps.[3],[14]

The mean scores and knowledge gained were significantly high among the group with mind map for the test conducted after 1 month. This was similar to previous studies done by D'Antoni et al., Kalyanasundaram et al., Farrand et al., and Wickramasinghe et al.[3],[8],[14],[15] This explains mind mapping as a more effective learning strategy with enhanced recall and long-term retention which in concordance with previous studies.[16]

According to Blooms taxonomy, the order of thinking skills in increasing order (lower to higher) is: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.[16],[17] In our study, 10 MCQ were framed which included all the levels of Blooms taxonomy, although the majority were of lower order. Two of 10 questions were of critical thinking and analyzing. The mean scores for these critical thinking questions were slightly higher with the mind map group but not statistically significant. The number of questions assessed in this study for critical thinking is less and as suggested by Kalyanasundaram et al. There is a need for further studies to assess the impact of mind mapping on critical thinking and analysis in the larger group and with more number of questions.[14]

In this study, students perceived the mind mapping technique as effective in understanding concepts, retain, and organize information which was similar to the study done by Deepali et al. and Ravindranath et al.[18],[19] Students also expressed their interest to learn more about mind map technique and felt the need to implement this strategy in the curriculum.

The main obstacles in implementation were faculty and student training. The faculty members were not exposed to this type of learning strategy. First, they were explained of the process, and then the faculty members gave session to students on procedure and application of mind maps. The students were shown an example of constructing mind maps and then allowed to develop mind maps by themselves. Any queries and problems during the construction of mind maps were answered by the faculty.

The other obstacle was that for the second topic, after crossover, the batch for conventional reading was already exposed to the mind mapping technique. Hence, it was difficult to supervise the students and make them learn by conventional reading.

With only a brief overview about the technique without a practice period to increase proficiency in creating mind maps, the mind map group had scored higher than the other group, who had the benefit of following the used method that has been firmly reinforced throughout their academic careers. The majority of students perceived mind maps as an effective learning strategy. Hence, it is encouraging to introduce this innovative and interesting technique as a learning strategy in medical education.

Strengths of this study

Interventional crossover study minimizes selection bias.

Limitations of this study

  • Multiple mind map sessions has to be conducted to gain proficiency
  • Small sample size.

  Conclusion Top

Gain in knowledge and information retrieval is better by mind mapping. Students perceived mind mapping as a useful and effective learning strategy, which can be implemented as a routine method among MBBS students. Mind mapping is a novel innovative learning strategy which can be adapted and implemented among MBBS students as a routine method.


I sincerely thank Nodal center, St. Johns Medical College, Department of Pathology, NRI Medical College for their constant support.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Anderson J, Graham A. A problem in medical education: Is there an information overload? Med Educ 1980;14:4-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
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D'Antoni AV, Zipp GP, Olson VG, Cahill TF. Does the mind map learning strategy facilitate information retrieval and critical thinking in medical students? BMC Med Educ 2010;10:61.  Back to cited text no. 3
Buzan T, Buzan B, editors. The Mind Map Book. London, England: BBC Books; 1993.  Back to cited text no. 4
Eshwar S, Jain V, Rekha K, Manvi S. Comparison of mind mapping and lecture based teaching learning method among dental undergraduates using solo taxonomy in Bangalore. India Res Rev J Dent Sci 2016;4:169-77.  Back to cited text no. 5
Rendas AB, Fonseca M, Pinto PR. Toward meaningful learning in undergraduate medical education using concept maps in a PBL pathophysiology course. Adv Physiol Educ 2006;30:23-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
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Ilgüy M, Ilgüy D, Fişekçioğlu E, Oktay I. Comparison of case-based and lecture-based learning in dental education using the SOLO taxonomy. J Dent Educ 2014;78:1521-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
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Sadeghi R, Sedaghat MM, Sha Ahmadi F. Comparison of the effect of lecture and blended teaching methods on students' learning and satisfaction. J Adv Med Educ Prof 2014;2:146-50.  Back to cited text no. 12
Bhat PK, Nikitha Mohan VJ, Jayachandra MY, Krishna VG, Aruna CN, Nayana M. Mind mapping- a learning strategy!! Among dental students: A comparative study. Int J Sci Res 2019;8:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 13
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[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
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Tee TK, Azman MN, Mohamed S, Mohamad MM, Yunos JM, Yee MH, et al. Buzan mind mapping: An efficient technique for note-taking. Int J Soc Hum Sci Eng 2014;8:28-8:2  Back to cited text no. 17
Deshatty DD, Mokashi V. Mind maps as a learning tool in anatomy. Int J Anat Res 2013;1:100-3.  Back to cited text no. 18
Ravindranath S, de Abrew WK, Nadarajah VD. Student's perception of mind mapping in Problem-based learning. J Contemp Med Educ 2016;42:60-6.  Back to cited text no. 19


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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