Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Gadanidis, George


Mind maps that combine text, images, colour and layout elements, have been widely used in classroom teaching to improve retention, knowledge organization and conceptual understanding. Furthermore, studies have shown the advantages of using mind-maps to facilitate collaborative learning. However, there are gaps in the literature regarding the use and study of collaborative mind-mapping in online learning settings. This integrated-article dissertation explores the implementation of online collaborative mind mapping activities in a mathematics teacher education program at a Canadian university. The studies were developed with participants enrolled in three different courses where at least two of the online activities used collaborative mind mapping for knowledge construction. Rather than prove the efficacy of a visual tool, as other studies have, this research provides an understanding of how the learning and knowledge construction process occurs when student interact with one another using a mind mapping tool. The set of articles contained in this dissertation answers to the questions: (1) What are the roles that collaborative mind mapping plays in the participants’ education as mathematics teachers? (2) What are the differences between student interaction in threaded forums and mind-maps? (3) How does online collaborative mind mapping enhance the aspects of engagement, representation, and expression in teacher education? (4) How can grounded theory methods be developed with sources of online multimodal data such as online mind mapping? (5) How do students interact and construct knowledge when they engage in online collaborative mind mapping? The research view is qualitative and uses a variety of descriptive case study, content analysis, and constructivist grounded theory methods. This dissertation provides insights into online collaborative knowledge construction when using collaborative mind-mapping and adds to the existing literature on online learning, especially concerning the use of visual, collaborative tools. It contains guidelines and suggestions to implement this type of learning experiences in other courses and/or other education levels.

Summary for Lay Audience

Mind maps are powerful visual tools that are widely used in classroom teaching to improve retention, understanding, and knowledge organization. New technologies allow for mind maps to become collaborative online tools that can also facilitate discussions. However, the process of how students collaborate using this technology has not been deeply studied before, and teachers desiring or requiring to use online mind maps in their classrooms don't have research-based recommendations that can improve the learning experience. This dissertation is composed of five articles that explore the uses of online collaborative mind mapping in an undergraduate education program. The research describes how online discussions in mind maps are different from those in forums, and what are the interaction patterns and behaviours that students develop when engaging in mind mapping activities. It provides important recommendations for higher education instructors that wish to use mind maps as a powerful visual tool in their courses.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.