Using Mind Maps to Identify Meaning-Making about ELs in Pre-Service Teachers


  • Katrina M. Reinhardt University of Indianapolis
  • Kaitlyn E. Denney University of Indianapolis



Mind Maps, Teacher Preparation, English Learners


The purpose of this research was to examine the use of mind-mapping as a classroom strategy for identifying and assessing the knowledge base of pre-service teachers as they prepare to work with English Learners (ELs) in mainstream classrooms. Using mind maps, the study identified the pre-service teachers’ knowledge base on ELs at the beginning of a 3-week service-learning course and in what areas they were able to grow. Using an action research framework and thematic analysis of the phrases written on mind maps, researchers were able to identify eleven themes prioritized by the pre-service teachers. Analysis of the mind maps revealed that pre-service teachers grew in ways that developed their knowledge of 1) supporting ELs through specific classroom strategies, 2) building awareness of and appreciating cultural diversity, 3) approaching language learning with an asset-oriented mindset, and 4) gaining a basic understanding of second language acquisition. The study found that mind maps are a helpful tool for identifying what pre-service teachers find meaningful about working with ELs as well as a source for data to inform teacher educators as they design and implement curriculum and experiences in teacher preparation that focus on ELs.

Key Words: Mind Maps, Teacher Preparation, English Learners

Author Biographies

Katrina M. Reinhardt, University of Indianapolis

Katrina Reinhardt is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the School of Education at the University of Indianapolis where she teaches introductory, literacy, and EL courses, arranges fieldwork, mentors pre-service teachers, and researches how teachers learn to support culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

Kaitlyn E. Denney, University of Indianapolis

Kaitlyn Denney is a junior undergraduate studying Operations and Supply Chain Management at the University of Indianapolis. Additionally, Kaitlyn is studying for her MBA with a concentration in Data Analytics. At her university, Kaitlyn is involved with the Honors College, Research Fellowship, and multiple business clubs.