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Mental Models

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Running Head: INVESTIGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS

“Investigating Your Own Mental Models”

Running Head: INVESTIGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS 1.
1. Describe the mental model thoroughly, including its origins, how long it has been established, conversations you have heard about it, etc. According to Hrepic (2011), “wider studies of mental model definitions show that no consensus exists about the definition of the term mental model and “some definitions of the concept are even contradictory.” “Canas and Antol”, believe the main reason for disagreements in the definition of the mental model is that the term has been used by researchers who work in different fields and who focused on its different aspects. However, “Van der Veer” believes that although there is no agreement about the exact definition of the concept, in general, “mental model” refers to the internal representations that people form of the environment through their interaction with it”(p. 1). In other words, mental models are believed to be assumptions, beliefs, generalizations even stereotypes of a person’s belief system that is often generated by their experiences. According to Senge (2006), “our mental models determine not only how we make sense of the world, but how we take action. Philosophers have discussed mental models for centuries, going back at least to Plato’s parable of the cave; “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a classic story, not about famous people, but about people bound by mental models. Their image of the monarch’s dignity kept them from seeing his naked figure as it was”(p. 164). According to Hrepic (2011), “the notion of the mental model as a “small-scale model” of reality, can be traced to the work of “Kenneth Craik”, 1943, who stated that mental models can be constructed from perception, imagination or from the comprehension of the
Running Head: INVESTIGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS 2. discourse. “Johnson-Laird” believed people constructed working cognitive representations of Phenomena they interact with while reasoning, they build mental representations by associating the incoming information with their existing knowledge. “Norman” defines the mental model as the mental representation constructed through interaction with the target system and constantly modified throughout this interaction. “Young” states that it is possible to have different mental models about a system representing different kinds of information. “Wittmann” define mental models as patterns of associations (i.e., rules, images, maps or analogies) used to guide spontaneous reasoning. “Taber” claims that it is possible for a learner to hold several different, yet stable and coherent explanatory schemes that are applied to the same concept area. “Bao and Redish” states they use the term mental model in a broad and inclusive sense and define it as a robust and coherent knowledge element or strongly associated set of knowledge elements. A mental model maybe simple or complex, correct or incorrect, recalled as a whole or generated spontaneously in response to a situation”(p. 1-4). 2. Answer: “What are the data on which this generalization is based? Provide a concise review of the data. According to Senge (2006), “mental models can be simple generalizations such as “people are untrustworthy”, or they can be complex theories, such as my assumptions about why members of my family interact as they do. But what is most important to grasp is that mental models are active – they shape how we act. If we believe people are untrustworthy, we act differently from the way we would if we believed they were
Running Head: INVESTIGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS 3. trustworthy. The problem with mental models lie not in whether they are right or wrong - by definition, all models are simplifications. The problem with mental models arises when they become implicit – when they exist below the level of awareness”(p. 164-166). According to Kurtz (2011), “researchers have been trying to understand how the human mind works for centuries. Various theories have been introduced to help researchers model human thought and behavior. The theory of mental models comes from ideas introduced by “Johnson-Laird” (1983) that involves a type of mental representation called mental models, which are structural analogies of the world. The idea is that humans use these mental models to understand the world and how to interact with it. By studying the mental models people use to explain the world, researchers can better understand how people perceive the world and what directs how they interact with the world. The term mental models came from the work of “Johnson-Laird” (1983) and refers to an internalized, mental representation of a devise or idea. “Johnson-Laird” credits “Craik” (1943) with the initial idea of mental representations. The theory of mental models is based on creating mental representations of things in the world. Those models may then be used to help train a user on a system or to help explain a user’s interaction with a system. Mental models were first introduced as an internalized, mental representation of something in the world. “Johnson-Laird” started this idea and applied it to things such as the spatial arrangement of objects. Others,
Running Head: INVESTIGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS 4. including “Norman” and “Payne”, adapted the idea for use in human-computer interaction”(p. 1-2). 3. Elaborate on how you can test the generalization directly. Be specific in the action steps you could take. According to Senge (2006), “learning is eventually always about action, and one basic reflective skill involves using gaps between what we say and what we do as a vehicle for becoming more aware. For example, one may profess a view (an espoused theory) that people are basically trustworthy. But one never lend friends money and jealously guards all their possessions. Obviously, ones theory in use, the deeper mental model, differs from the espoused theory. Then we have “leaps of Abstraction”. Leaps of Abstraction occur when we move from direct observations (concrete “data”) to generalizations without testing. Leaps of abstraction impede learning because they become axiomatic. What was once an assumption becomes treated as a fact. Moreover, untested generalizations can easily become the basis for further generalization. Failing to distinguish direct observation from generalizations inferred from observation leads us never to think to test the generalization”(p. 177-179). It should be noted that Senge goes on to offer ways that one can test generalizations directly by “inquiring into the reasons behind one another’s action, using the “left-hand column technique”. The left-hand column technique involves selecting a situation concerning an interaction, dialogue with one or several other people. The conversation would be specific to a situation that was not working or not producing results. One
Running Head: INVESTIGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS 5. would write out a sample of the exchange in the form of a script on the right-hand side of the page. On the left-hand side, one would write what they were thinking during the exchange or what one wished they should have said. The left-hand column technique provides one with the opportunity to see their assumptions more clearly and hopefully be able to articulate their views more clearly and learn more about the other person’s views. Senge also include the “Balancing Inquiry and Advocacy” technique in testing generalizations. It is a fine art in combining inquiry and advocacy. According to Senge (2006), “when advocating your view: make your own reasoning explicit, encourage others to explore your view, encourage others to provide different views, actively inquire into others’ views that differ from your own. When inquiring into others’ views: state the “data”, upon which your assumptions are based’ don’t bother asking questions if you are not genuinely interested. When you arrive at an impasse: ask what data or logic might change their views, ask if there is any way you might together design an experiment that might provide new information. When you or others are hesitant to express your views or to experiment with alternative ideas, encourage them to think out loud about what might be making it difficult and if there is mutual desire to do so, design with others ways of overcoming these barriers”(p. 186-187). 4. Summarize what this activity generated for you.

Running Head: INVESTINGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS 6.
I have come to realize that all of us have mental models. All of us have possessed different mental models about everything in life. All of us have mental models that we are passionate about, mental models that will change throughout life and some mental models that we will hold on to until death. However, through the study of mental models, I have learned that we can examine and reexamine our mental models. We can ask questions, inquire, advocate in a way that will help us to understand our mental models as well as others.

Running Head: INVESTIGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS 7. References
Bao, L., & Redish, E. F. (2006). “Model Analysis: Representing and Assessing the Dynamics of Student Learning”. Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res., 2, 010103
Canas, J.J., & Antoli, A. (1998). “The Role of Working Memory in Measuring Mental Models”. In T. R. G. Green, L. Bannon, C. P. Warren & J. Buckley (EDs.), Proceedings of the Ninth European Conference on cognitive Ergonomics – Cognition and Cooperation. Rocquencourt: EACE. INRIA.
Hrepic, Z. (2011). “Mental Model Definition and Context Dependence”. Abstract, 1-4. Retrieved from http://Business Dictionary.com.
Johnson-Laird, P.N. (1983). “Mental Models”. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Craik, K. (1943). The Nature of Explanation”. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Kurtz, A. (2011). “Mental Models – A Theory Critique”. Abstract, 1-2. Retrieved from http://Business Dictionary.com.
Norman, D.A. (1983). “Some Observations on Mental Models”. In D.A. Gentner & A.L. Stevens (Eds.), Mental Models. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Payne, S. J. (2003). “Users’ Mental Models: The Very Ideas”. In J. M. Carroll (Ed.), HCI Models, Theories and Frameworks: Toward a Multidisciplinary Science. San Francisco:
Running Head: INVESTIGATING YOUR OWN MENTAL MODELS 8. References Morgan Kaufman.
Senge, P. (2006). “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization”. New York, NY: DoubleDay.
Taber, K. S. (2000). “Multiple Frameworks? Evidence of Manifold Conceptions in Individual Cognitive Structure”. International Journal of Science Education, 22(4), 399-417.
Van der Veer, G. (2000, October 15, 2001). “Mental Models of Incidental Human-Machine Interaction”. Retrieved June 10, 2002, from http://www.cs.vu.nl/gerrit/mmi9910- report1.doc.
Wittmann, M. C. (2001). “The Object Coordination Class Applied to Wavepulses: Analyzing Student Reasoning in Wave Physics”. International Journal of Science Education, 24(1), 97 -118.
Young, R. M. (1983). “Surrogates and Mappings: Two Kinds of Conceptual Models for Interactive Devices”. In D. A. Gentner & A. L. Stevens (Eds.), Mental Models. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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