Affinity diagram

Also known as: affinity chart, affinity mapping, KJ method, thematic analysis

Affinity diagrams help to organise and consolidate a large number of ideas from brainstorming sessions into meaningful categories or themes. They:

  • assist educators to gain an insight into a student's ability to understand a topic and make connections
  • challenge students to demonstrate higher levels of understanding through explaining the reasons for clustering ideas into a particular category
  • are developed from the bottom up, unlike concept mapping which is top down, or brainstorming which is free form.

Affinity diagram

ICT templates

How to use with ICT

Complete a collaborative brainstorming activity and share the result online with all class members. Ask each student to complete a digital affinity diagram from the collaborative brainstorm, to be submitted through Google Classroom or Teams. Affinity diagram submissions can be scaffolded to develop guided comparisons and further collaborative discussions about divergent ideas of affinity relationships.


Single computer

Use the walls for brainstorming with post-it notes. Project a template of empty, unnamed columns or cluster groups which students collaboratively populate with the cohort’s post-it notes and in the process, decide on the affinity theme for each column or cluster.

External resources

Find out more resources
Title Link Description
Affinity Diagrams - Learn How to Cluster and Bundle Ideas and Facts by Rikke Dam and Teo Siang on the Interaction Design Foundation website Article: Affinity Diagrams Describes the affinity diagram method as a process that is great for grouping data gathered during research or ideas generated during brainstorms. Provides details on why, best practice, key takeaways and where to learn more.
Affinity map by Gamestorming methods on the Session Lab website Affinity map activity Details an engaging affinity diagram technique to help discover embedded and new patterns of thinking by sorting and clustering language-based information into relationships.
Affinity diagrams by Sue DeAngelis on the LEAPP Quality Classroom Tools website Affinity diagram examples Simple explanation for classroom practice, with useful photos illustrating what it can look like.
Affinity map diagram on the ASQ website Affinity map diagram Details an engaging affinity diagram technique to help discover embedded and new patterns of thinking by sorting and clustering language-based information into relationships.
Affinity mapping by Jessie Drumm Affinity mapping video A short video that introduces affinity mapping as an activity that follows a brainstorming session. Can be shown to students.


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