Group concept mapping for health professions education scholarship

Susan C. Mirabal, Darcy A. Reed, Yvonne Steinert, Cynthia R. Whitehead, Scott M. Wright, Sean Tackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While explicit conceptual models help to inform research, they are left out of much of the health professions education (HPE) literature. One reason may be the limited understanding about how to develop conceptual models with intention and rigor. Group concept mapping (GCM) is a mixed methods conceptualization approach that has been used to develop frameworks for planning and evaluation, but GCM has not been common in HPE. The purpose of this article is to describe GCM in order to make it more accessible for HPE scholars. We recount the origins and evolution of GCM and summarize its core features: GCM can combine multiple stakeholder perspectives in a systematic and inclusive manner to generate explicit conceptual models. Based on the literature and prior experience using GCM, we detail seven steps in GCM: (1) brainstorming ideas to a specific “focus prompt,” (2) preparing ideas by removing duplicates and editing for consistency, (3) sorting ideas according to conceptual similarity, (4) generating the point map through quantitative analysis, (5) interpreting cluster map options, (6) summarizing the final concept map, and (7) reporting and using the map. We provide illustrative examples from HPE studies and compare GCM to other conceptualization methods. GCM has great potential to add to the myriad of methodologies open to HPE researchers. Its alignment with principles of diversity and inclusivity, as well as the need to be systematic in applying theoretical and conceptual frameworks to practice, make it a method well suited for the complexities of contemporary HPE scholarship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Consensus methods
  • Group concept mapping
  • Health professions education
  • Health professions education scholarship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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