Twardy, C. R., (2004). Argument Maps Improve Critical Thinking Teaching Philosophy, 27:2
This is very interesting although is discussing a particular piece of software to create argument maps his main thrust can be applied to other software that does similar things. At first he was sceptical about whether the use of argument maps indeed improved critical thinking skills but...
He found that students needed practice and that the three major components are argument mapping, quality practice, and scaffolded, structured learning.
I suspect that many teachers using mindmapping software do not use it as fully as it is intended but just as a quick brainstorm. Many of these packages have templates to help teachers to use them to encourage higher order thinking skills.
"Practice is clearly important: argument mapping without practice would not much improve critical thinking. Likewise, clear structure and expectations will improve any subject. Nevertheless, I suspect that argument mapping is the key — that if a traditional critical-thinking class matched the amount of practice and graduated structure of the Reason!(software package) method, it would not show the same level of improvement." (p.13)