Using Concept Map as an Assessment Tool

I am currently building a learning portal and a few courses. Our motto is Learning by Doing. So the courses do not have a lot of material. A set of projects and the skill requirements for each project. We point to some good sources of information – tutorials, documents, wikis, videos on the web. Our core value addition is the mentoring and guiding students with a set of challenging projects. We plan to turn some of those implementations into open source products ultimately.

To do well, students need to understand the core concepts and how they are inter-related. They also need to associate each feature with modules that implement features. A typical assessment may consist of a quiz, a test, asking students to write some text.

I have been toying around with the idea of asking the students to draw a map of concepts and associations. After each lesson the student would develop a concept map using an open source tool made available. This will not only tell us what they thought the major concepts were, but also find what most of them missed. Will help tune the content a bit or add more examples.

I wonder whether any one tried this. Any input, thoughts, comments will be greatly appreciated.