This article recapitulates approaches abroad to the educational exploitation of mental maps and their potential use in research. It draws attention to the not entirely adequate exploitation of this tool in Czech educational research. Apart from information on the comprehensive possibilities of quantification of mental maps (the MMAR scoring system) it focuses on the qualitative analysis of mental maps as a way of gaining a deeper understanding of phenomena investigated. This presupposes, however, abandonment of positivistic research goals and a willingness to rely on phenomenological and hermeneutic principles of interpretation, not excluding visual symbolism. Using a case study the article then draws attention to a potential interpretation of two mental maps as facilitating deeper understanding of the experience of a participant on a course organised in the context of informal education.