Benefits of Using Concept Maps for Students with Dyslexia

Benefits of Using Concept Maps for Students with Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

There are multiple definitions of dyslexia available, The International Dyslexia Association (2002) defines it as follows;

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary problems may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.  

It is often referred to as a learning disability or learning difficulty. The core deficits can affect people with dyslexia in the following ways;

  • Phonological deficits can mean difficulty manipulating and identifying the sounds in words. For example identifying beginning middle and end sounds.
  • Difficulty with letter/sound association skills.  
  • Orthographic processing difficulties, making reading and spelling tasks particularly difficult.
  • Slower automaticity and naming speed will mean difficulty in recalling names and less fluency with reading.
  • Deficits in comprehension skills.
  • Organisation skills may be hampered. 
  • Inability to multitask or effectively manage time/tasks.
  • Auditory processing issues, which may mean difficulty in blending, retaining verbal information, following instructions or learning lists.
  • Note taking will also be difficult.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and may include other deficits. Not every student diagnosed with dyslexia will experience all deficits.

Using evidence-based teaching strategies in the classroom will provide a well supported, inclusive environment for students with a dyslexia diagnosis.

What are concept maps?

Concept Maps are a visual representation of a whole idea or concept. They are a way to organise thoughts, ideas and facts to prompt memory and encourage organisation. They enable students to assimilate ideas and disseminate the information effectively across a project or piece of work.

5 ways a concept map can help students with dyslexia?


When attempting to organise ideas on a page, students with dyslexia can struggle to get the ideas down onto the page. Providing a concept map template can ease the pressure of organisation and gives them a logical place to start generating their ideas.


Concept maps can provide a much needed structure. They break down the information into manageable chunks, which in turn can help immensely with organisational skills.


The structure of a concept map can provide ways to link ideas, an area of planning that is often difficult for students with dyslexia.

Note taking

As auditory processing may be a problem for students with dyslexia, mind maps can help with note taking. In the same way a concept map template can help with concentration, the template will provide a logical way to organise the information being delivered.


Providing strategies to support students with dyslexia simply means you are providing an educational environment to support all students. If all students are able to access the lesson, with no unfair advantages for some, then you are successfully running an inclusive classroom.

How do you use a concept map?

  1. Start with the main topic idea. If it is from a text, model how to find the main idea. If the main topic idea is for a project, then the student should have been exposed to prior topic knowledge in order for the concept map to be successful.
  2. As students provide ideas, structure them into categories. Students can reorganise the structure if they wish, students can provide you with feedback to ensure the template you are providing works for them. Note; it is important that the concept map is populated in the language that they would use to ensure complete understanding of the ideas.
  3. When the concept map has been populated, it is useful to share the contents with a peer. Peer feedback is an important aspect of student understanding if the process of creating a concept map is to be meaningful.
  4. Encourage students to refer to their concept map frequently throughout the project or task. They can add to the concept map further if need be to ensure all ideas are captured.

For further information on the research behind concept maps, subscribe to EBP Educations extensive library of whitepapers and access multiple concept map templates to enhance your teaching and use of evidence-based practices in the classroom.