How do we attain what we want? Are there tools to help us out? In this article, I describe how I attempted to align my teaching module with the goals of my students using a mind mapping app. The method can also have practical value in making clear other paths, even personal, to make the most of your time and achieve your aspirations in life.
At a particular juncture of our life, we tend to get confused about what matters. This difficulty especially becomes much more magnified during the pandemic caused by a highly ubiquitous virus that started to spread early this year. The scourge of COVID-19 beset many countries and left trails of sorrow and pain to many people.
What do you want?
Under a situation of uncertainty and ominous threat, perhaps as part of our adaptation, there is that inner prompt that tells us to reflect on what we hold dear in our lives. Is it the satisfaction of our basic needs, relationships, career, or fulfillment of material wants? What outcome do we want as we tread life’s path?
Each one has his or her own desire to fulfill at different stages of life. Some of these desires may have already been consummated while some remain to be done. For those who hope to live some more years, there is always hope that a goal can still be reached somehow. But the question is, “How?”
Everything becomes apparent when you use tools to guide your mind that appears to work randomly. To reach your goal, there is a need to fix your focus towards achieving that goal. And to be systematic about it, mind mapping can serve as your key to attaining that outcome.
How Mind Mapping Can Help You
Let me cite an example of how mind mapping can help attain an outcome. Our focus will be on graduate students taking time off from work to advance their careers.
As a professor anticipating the opening of classes, I revisited my syllabus to find out if the outcomes of the subjects I teach align with my students’ goals. What do my students want when they enrolled in the MS in Environmental Science course? Specifically, registering in a subject like Economic Valuation of Environment and Natural Resources?
The speaker of the previous webinar I’ve attended advised us that when we design our modules, both online and offline, we should think of the essential learning competencies or MELCs. This approach is crucial given the difficulty students encounter in accessing the internet and how they would keep up with the limitations imposed by the quarantine due to COVID-19. We should ask ourselves the question: “What would be the most critical outcome in terms of knowledge, skills, and attitude that we want our students to possess once they have finished a course?
Using a Mind Mapping Tool to Define an Outcome
Focusing on the MELCs requires that we streamline our courses. Essentially, we should keep our modules short and clear without sacrificing the production of quality outputs. Bearing this in mind, I came up with an Ishikawa or fishbone diagram using XMind, a mind mapping software, which I show below (click to enlarge).
Notice that since I am teaching in graduate school, I have to ensure that the action verbs for the learning outcome belong to the Higher Order Thinking Skills or HOTS. Examples of these HOTS action verbs are write, design, create, evaluate, analyze, model, plan, propose, generate, produce, compose, assess, critique, compare, differentiate, organize, outline, and conclude. All of these words require students to think before they leap.
Now, it is quite clear that the course outcome in the subject Economic Valuation of Environmental and Natural Resources is “to develop capacity among the MS students to perform an economic valuation study.” This outcome forms the “head” of the fishbone diagram. The “fish bones” converge towards attaining that primary outcome through the students’ accomplishments of the series of related mini-outcomes or MELCs.
You may apply this approach to the attainment of your personal goal. Map your thinking out to see if what you do contributes to realizing what you want in life.