Concept mapping and teacher expertise

A new book (that I have just discovered) makes an interesting addition to the concept mapping literature. Salmon and Kelly (2015) offer a very clear, and well-illustrated discussion of the value of concept mapping as a tool in teacher development. They take the idea of ‘adaptive expertise’ as one of the central ideas within the book, and its value in teacher development.

Whereas routine experts “Develop a core set of competencies and then apply these competencies throughout their lives with greater and greater efficiency”,   adaptive experts “Change their core competencies and continually expand the breadth and depth of their expertise. Efficiency fluctuates, but flexibility increases”, the authors argue. When applied to expert teachers, this is a very interesting distinction and should raise concerns whenever teaching evaluations might be looking at ‘teaching efficiency’ as an indicator of excellence.

Salmon and Kelly take the reader through a number of key processes to help gain proficiency in concept mapping: selecting big ideas, articulating linking phrases, organizing conceptual structures and creating conceptual coherence. These processes are all explained clearly and are illustrated with numerous concept maps to help with the explanations. The authors argue that critical thinking processes are brought to the fore through concept mapping exercises, nicely summarised as a three step process:



This is one of the first books to really look critically at the quality of concept maps and their impact on the learner/teacher and to explore the importance of map morphology – rather than map size. As such I feel it may well be a very useful tool for teachers of all levels. This is certainly a book that I would recommend to colleagues undertaking teacher development programmes at university. Very helpful and written in a very accessible style.


Salmon, D. and Kelly, M. (2015) Using concept mapping to foster adaptive expertise: Enhancing teacher metacognitive learning to improve student academic performance. NY, Peter Lang.


One thought on “Concept mapping and teacher expertise

  1. Edison Trombeta and Leandro Campelo

    Hi, professor Kinchin. How are you? The book connects routine experts to efficieny and this efficiency can be seen by the size of a conceptual mapping. The book also connects adaptative experts to flexibility, something that can be measured by the morphology of the mapping. The education’s focus currently is the teaching’s efficiency as an indicator of excellence, but it seems the book emphasizes the the flexibility factor. So, do this flexibility refer to the insertion of new technologys in educational process or to the new generation of learners, who has more need for meaningful knowledges? How can we show the importance of the flexibility to inservice teachers? Kind regards



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