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BMC Med Educ. 2009 Apr 28;9:19. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-9-19.

Interrater reliability of the mind map assessment rubric in a cohort of medical students.

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  • 1Department of Graduate Programs in Health Sciences, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ 07079, USA.



Learning strategies are thinking tools that students can use to actively acquire information. Examples of learning strategies include mnemonics, charts, and maps. One strategy that may help students master the tsunami of information presented in medical school is the mind map learning strategy. Currently, there is no valid and reliable rubric to grade mind maps and this may contribute to their underutilization in medicine. Because concept maps and mind maps engage learners similarly at a metacognitive level, a valid and reliable concept map assessment scoring system was adapted to form the mind map assessment rubric (MMAR). The MMAR can assess mind map depth based upon concept-links, cross-links, hierarchies, examples, pictures, and colors. The purpose of this study was to examine interrater reliability of the MMAR.


This exploratory study was conducted at a US medical school as part of a larger investigation on learning strategies. Sixty-six (N = 66) first-year medical students were given a 394-word text passage followed by a 30-minute presentation on mind mapping. After the presentation, subjects were again given the text passage and instructed to create mind maps based upon the passage. The mind maps were collected and independently scored using the MMAR by 3 examiners. Interrater reliability was measured using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) statistic. Statistics were calculated using SPSS version 12.0 (Chicago, IL).


Analysis of the mind maps revealed the following: concept-links ICC = .05 (95% CI, -.42 to .38), cross-links ICC = .58 (95% CI, .37 to .73), hierarchies ICC = .23 (95% CI, -.15 to .50), examples ICC = .53 (95% CI, .29 to .69), pictures ICC = .86 (95% CI, .79 to .91), colors ICC = .73 (95% CI, .59 to .82), and total score ICC = .86 (95% CI, .79 to .91).


The high ICC value for total mind map score indicates strong MMAR interrater reliability. Pictures and colors demonstrated moderate to strong interrater reliability. We conclude that the MMAR may be a valid and reliable tool to assess mind maps in medicine. However, further research on the validity and reliability of the MMAR is necessary.

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