A graphic organizer allows for the visual representation of knowledge, concepts, or ideas. They help with learning, planning, and organizing information. Features of the software support brainstorming, planning, organizing, outlining, pre-writing, diagramming, concept mapping, webbing, and more.
Research has shown that graphic organizers can be effective for note-taking (Crooks, White, & Barnard, 2007), reading comprehension (DiCecco, & Gleason, 2002), writing (Bishop, Sawyer, Alber-Morgan, & Boggs, 2015), and even mathematics (Ives, 2007). Many researchers have found that student performance increases when they are given sufficient instructional time with graphic organizers (Alvermann, & Boothby, 1986). In one historic study, Alvermann & Boothby found that student performance increased significantly with 14 training sessions versus just 7 or none. This is important to remember; students (especially individuals with disabilities) cannot just be given graphic organizers with the expectation that their performance will immediately improve.
There are many different types of graphic organizers that one can use. Though graphic organizers can be done with out the aid of computer based technology, graphic organizing software makes it is easier to manipulate and develop ideas. In addition, other assistive technology can be integrated with it (i.e. word prediction to aid in spelling).
Research Rating: Due to the experimental nature of the information cited in this description this information is to be trusted as valid and reliable.
Effective in increasing student performance on a variety of task types
Can be either low- or high-tech (e.g., paper versus an app or computer program)
Can be tailored to the specific needs of individual students
Training may be time consuming
Students will require training on how to use the program/graphic organizer effectively. Research dictates that students will require more than 7 training sessions in order to use graphic organizers effectively (Alvermann & Boothby, 1986)
There is no "one size fits all" graphic organizer; students will have to be provided with or create graphic organizers with specific goals in mind
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Alvermann, D. E., & Boothby, P. R. (1986). Children's transfer of graphic organizer information. Reading Psychology: An International Quarterly, 7, 87-100.
Bishop, A. E., Sawyer, M., Alber-Morgan, S. R., & Boggs, M. (2015). Effects of a graphic organizer training package on the persuasive writing of middle school students with autism. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 50, 290-302.
Crooks, S. M., White, D. R., & Barnard, L. (2007). Factors influencing the effectiveness of note taking on computer based graphic organizers. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 37, 369-391.
DiCecco, V. M., & Gleason, M. M. (2002). Using graphic organizers to attain relational knowledge from expository text. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35, 306-320.
Ives, B. (2007). Graphic organizers applied to secondary algebra instruction for students with learning disorders. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 22, 110-118.
Written by Bronwyn Lamond, Last Revision March 2017