Information and Characteristics Education

Graphic Organizers: Types, Characteristics and Examples

Graphic organizers: types, characteristics and examples

A summary of the types of graphic organizers used in education or training.

Graphic organizers are tools that allow information to be organized in a visual way , facilitating learning, since they allow the educational or instructional content to be captured in a more dynamic way, helping the student to organize the information.

They are easy and quick to consult, as well as helping to better understand the explained content. Its elaboration allows to put into practice different skills: comparing data, ordering events and structuring the information.

Below are the 15 most common types of graphic organizers, their characteristics and what type of content they usually contain.

The list of main graphic organizers

There are multiple types of graphic organizers , depending on the topic to be studied or the problem to be solved. These are some of the most used:

1. Concept maps

They allow to show relationships between different concepts. The data is presented in a synthetic way, but relating it to other ideas in a clear way .

A good concept map is one in which you start with broader information and progressively move towards more specific details.

This type of graphic organizers require the use of connectors and prepositions that relate their ideas, since they facilitate an agile reading when reviewing the content.

2. Organization charts

This type of graphic organizers show how an entity is organized in a hierarchical way , such as a company, the staff of a hospital or the faculty of an institute.

They are also used to plan the tasks that the members of a group will carry out.

3. Venn diagrams

Venn diagrams typically show multiple circles that partially overlap . Each of them represents a category and are called sets.

When two sets visually coincide, it means that they share characteristics in some aspect. The area that does not overlap represents what is unique to each set.

This graphic organizer was created by John Venn, and originally used in the field of mathematics , although it can be used in any discipline.

4. Comparative tables

They consist of tables where it is intended to find out the main differences and similarities between two or more elements .

In the comparative tables there are columns, where the topics are usually put, and rows, where the aspects to be evaluated are indicated.

They are very useful when it comes to indicating the advantages and disadvantages of two or more ideas, or those aspects that they have in common and how they differ.

5. Summary tables

They are used to order the information on a topic following a hierarchy. The way in which they can be elaborated is varied, whether in the form of keys, matrices or diagrams.

They resemble organization charts, but they do not describe the organization of a group of people but rather how the subject matter is organized , as well as making it easier to see which ideas are the main ones.

6. Idea map

They are also called mind maps. In them, ideas are displayed visually, similar to how it is done in concept maps, but without following a hierarchy. The main ideas are simply indicated .

They are very useful in an early phase of the study, since they allow to clarify the fundamentals of the content and to put it together little by little to make a concept map later.

Colors, images, keywords and even graphics can be used to understand the topic.

7. Cobwebs

These graphic organizers are little known, but very useful for teaching topics such as, for example, food webs or relationships between a group of friends.

They are used to show the relationship between a category, which is placed in the center of the web, and others that are placed around it . Both the main and secondary categories interact with each other, forming a spider web.

Cobwebs differ from concept maps because they are very schematic, without resorting to connectors to facilitate their reading aloud. They are also different from idea maps because there is a hierarchy in cobwebs.

8. Timelines

They allow you to see schematically when events occurred, ordered according to their chronological dates . They make it easy to understand the time elapsed between each event, in addition to allowing you to learn their order.

These graphic organizers are widely used in disciplines related to History and its related subjects .

9. Schemes

They are basically visual summaries of a topic . They indicate the order of the concepts that make up an idea, making it easier to understand the relationship between them. It also allows to establish and differentiate between primary and secondary ideas.

Outlines are very useful to begin reviewing content, since, like idea maps, they can be used as the first phase of the study.

10. Chain of sequences

It is a tool in which series of events are represented, such as those that occur in a process. These events are represented in circles and are related to each other by arrows . They are normally read according to the needles of the clock.

They are very useful when studying historical events or biological processes, such as the Krebs cycle or photosynthesis.

11. Character map

It is used to analyze the character of a historical or literary character . First, the characteristics of the person are identified and, later, they are exemplified by showing facts or words that the character has said.

12. Attribute wheel

A circle is drawn to represent a wheel and the subject being discussed is placed in its center. Around it the main attributes are described.

This type of graphic organizer is very useful in the field of education , since if it is presented in white it helps students feel motivated to fill it in and learning happens in an enjoyable way.

13. The main idea table

It serves to visually represent the relationship of a main idea and its details. The surface of the table is where the main theme is placed, and each of the legs is where the secondary ideas are placed .

Despite being quite simple, it is useful, since it does not require much time to elaborate it and allows you to quickly sketch the content studied.

14. Cause-effect or Ishikawa diagrams

These diagrams are a tool that makes it easier to find the roots of a certain problem , analyzing everything that is involved.

It consists of a main line or “thorn” that points to the problem on the right side. Up and down the spine the different causes that have influenced the appearance of the problem are shown.

15. Flow chart

It is a graphical representation of a linear process. Each step of the process is described in a very synthetic way and their relationships are indicated by arrows . It allows you to have a quick idea of the steps involved in a process.

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