Mental models and meaningful learning

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					IAMSE   July 21, 2003
Mental models and
meaningful learning
Joel Michael
Department of Physiology
Rush Medical College
Chicago, IL 60612
(jmichael@rush.edu)

  IAMSE                July 21, 2003
Acknowledgements




 IAMSE             July 21, 2003
Acknowledgements
   Rovick, Harold Modell,
 Al
 Mary Pat Wenderoth, Bill Cliff




  IAMSE                     July 21, 2003
Acknowledgements
 AlRovick, Harold Modell,
  Mary Pat Wenderoth, Bill Cliff
 My colleagues in PERC




  IAMSE                      July 21, 2003
Acknowledgements
 AlRovick, Harold Modell,
  Mary Pat Wenderoth, Bill Cliff
 My colleagues in PERC
 ONR and NSF




  IAMSE                      July 21, 2003
Agenda




 IAMSE   July 21, 2003
Agenda
 What’s   “meaningful learning?”




  IAMSE                      July 21, 2003
Agenda
 What’s “meaningful learning?”
 What’s a “mental model?”




  IAMSE                    July 21, 2003
Agenda
 What’s “meaningful learning?”
 What’s a “mental model?”
 What do “mental models” have to do
  with “meaningful learning?”




  IAMSE                   July 21, 2003
Agenda
 What’s “meaningful learning?”
 What’s a “mental model?”
 What do “mental models” have to do
  with “meaningful learning?”
 What’s the role of the teacher in all of
  this?



  IAMSE                       July 21, 2003
“You   Bet Your Life"




 IAMSE                  July 21, 2003
“You       Bet Your Life"
GROUCHO MARX: Thank you, thank you, and
  welcome to "You Bet Your Life." Say the
  secret word and a duck will come down and
  give you fifty dollars.
(The duck appears.)
FENNEMAN: And the secret word tonight is:
  clock.
GROUCHO: Okay, duck, scram.
May 6, 1954 at 8PM, NBC




    IAMSE                    July 21, 2003
If you were asked . . .




  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
If you were asked . . .

What do you want (and/or
expect) your students to
accomplish?


  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
You would probably reply . . .




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You would probably reply . . .
I want my students to
_______ physiology
(or anatomy, etc.)



 IAMSE               July 21, 2003
You would probably reply . . .
I want my students to
_______ physiology
(or anatomy, etc.)

What’s the secret word?
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The “secret word” is:




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The “secret word” is:



“UNDERSTAND.”


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We want our students
to understand the
disciplines we teach.

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Meaningful learning is . . .




  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
Meaningful learning is . . .
learning with understanding.




  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
Meaningful learning is . . .
learning with understanding.

“. . . A person understands some
  information to the extent that he
  or she can use it in performing
  the tasks for which it is
  relevant.” (Simon, 2001)
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How do we know meaningful
learning has occurred?




 IAMSE            July 21, 2003
How do we know meaningful
learning has occurred?
Or,
What would a student have to
do to demonstrate that she
understands something?


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We know meaningful learning
has occurred when . . .




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We know meaningful learning
has occurred when . . .
 students  can predict the behavior of
  the system.
 students can explain the responses
  of the system.
 students can solve problems,



  IAMSE                   July 21, 2003
We know meaningful learning
has occurred when . . .
 students  can predict the behavior of
  the system.
 students can explain the responses
  of the system.
 students can solve problems,
 and they can do so for novel
  problems or situations.
  IAMSE                   July 21, 2003
The goal, then, is meaning-

ful learning or learning with

understanding.

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A question for discussion

How many of you actually assess
the extent to which your students
have achieved meaningful
learning? How do you do this?

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What is a mental model?




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A mental model is . . .
a representation in long-term
 memory of the system or
 phenomenon being learned.




  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
A mental model is . . .
made up of interconnected,
related pieces of information
(knowledge) with the same
“structure” as that which is being
modeled.

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The mental model of the
expert is . . .
more,   or less, complete.
coherent and consistent.
richly interconnected.
used to solve problems.




  IAMSE                July 21, 2003
The mental model of the
novice (learner) is . . .
incomplete.
not completely coherent, and
 often inconsistent.
sparsely interconnected.
potentially useable to solve
 problems,
but likely to contain errors.
  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
More questions for discussion
For any discipline, or topic, how
do we determine what’s an
appropriate model for the
learner? Do we expect the
expert’s model? If not, then
what do we expect?

  IAMSE                July 21, 2003
Mental models




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Mental models
 There can be more than one model
 of a phenomenon available at the
 same time.




  IAMSE                July 21, 2003
Mental models
 There  can be more than one model
  of a phenomenon available at the
  same time.
 Which model is used depends on
  the immediate context or problem.



  IAMSE                July 21, 2003
Mental models
 There  can be more than one model
  of a phenomenon available at the
  same time.
 Which model is used depends on
  the immediate context or problem.
 Flawed models (misconceptions)
  are common in learners .
  IAMSE                July 21, 2003
Mental models may be
present as . . .
semantic   networks, rule sets,
 schemata, etc. (their behavioral
 “form”).
 neural nets, neural circuits etc.
 in the brain (their neural
 “mechanism”).

  IAMSE                 July 21, 2003
In the classroom . . .
knowing the “form” of the mental
model or its neural “mechanism”
is of no particular significance.




  IAMSE                  July 21, 2003
In the classroom what matters
is the teacher’s recognition . . .
that acquired knowledge is
 organized into mental models.
and that these models must
 be used for whatever the
 learner does with the acquired
 knowledge.
  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
In physiology . . .
mental models of phenomena
 can be usefully represented as
 qualitative, causal models.




  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
A qualitative, causal model
    Breathing         Dead
    frequency         space

                            -
                +
                     Alveolar
                    ventilation
                +


      Tidal
     volume

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                  Right
                  atrial
                pressure
                (preload)



                 +

            +               -          Mean
Inotropic       Stroke                arterial
  state         volume               pressure
                                    (afterload)




 IAMSE                          July 21, 2003
Qualitative, causal models . .
contain a great deal of
 knowledge related to each
 “element” (variable in a box).
can “run” to solve problems
 (make predictions about
 responses).

  IAMSE                July 21, 2003
IAMSE   July 21, 2003
An example of a faulty mental
model (or misconception)




 IAMSE              July 21, 2003
An example of a faulty mental
model (or misconception)
What  happens to your
 breathing frequency when you
 exercise?




 IAMSE              July 21, 2003
An example of a faulty mental
model (or misconception)
What  happens to your
 breathing frequency when you
 exercise?
What happens to your tidal
 volume when you exercise?


 IAMSE              July 21, 2003
What happens to breathing
when we exercise?
Breathing   frequency increases.

Tidal   volume increases.




 IAMSE                 July 21, 2003
A respiratory misconception
 Approximately   2000 students have
  been asked these questions.
 Nearly all of them told us that
  breathing frequency increases.
 Approximately 50% told us that
  tidal volume either stays the same
  or decreases.

  IAMSE                 July 21, 2003
Faculty groups are about as likely
to have this misconception as are
student groups!




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What’s the explanation for this
respiratory misconception?




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What’s the explanation for this
respiratory misconception?

The most common explanation
was that with increased breathing
frequency there isn’t enough time
to take in as much air.

  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
The faulty mental model
underlying the misconception
     Breathing
     frequency

                  +
                       Alveolar
                      ventilation
                  +
         -
          Tidal
         volume


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“Correcting” misconceptions
The  process of changing a
 flawed mental model to one that
 more correctly represents the
 phenomenon at hand is referred
 to as conceptual change.



 IAMSE               July 21, 2003
“Correcting” misconceptions
The  process of changing a
 flawed mental model to one that
 more correctly represents the
 phenomenon at hand is referred
 to as conceptual change.
Meaningful learning commonly
 requires conceptual change.

  IAMSE              July 21, 2003
“Correcting” misconceptions




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“Correcting” misconceptions

IS VERY HARD WORK (for the
learner and for the teacher).




 IAMSE              July 21, 2003
More questions
What misconceptions do your
students bring to class on the first
day of the course? How do you
know? What do you do about
these misconceptions?

  IAMSE                 July 21, 2003
Mental models & meaningful
learning – how do they relate?




 IAMSE              July 21, 2003
Mental models & meaningful
learning – how do they relate?

Achieving meaningful learning
requires the building of
appropriate mental models
and acquiring the ability to use
those models.
 IAMSE               July 21, 2003
How is meaningful learning
achieved? The student must:
 acquire information.
 test and refine his/her mental
  models.
 practice using these models to
  solve problems.
 correct any faulty mental models.


  IAMSE                  July 21, 2003
What’s the role of the teacher
in all this?




 IAMSE               July 21, 2003
What’s the role of the teacher
in all this?

HELPING THE
LEARNER TO
LEARN!

 IAMSE               July 21, 2003
“The long-established first
principle . . . is that learning
takes place inside the learner
and only inside the learner.”
(Simon, 2001)

  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
How do we help the learner to
learn?




 IAMSE              July 21, 2003
How do we help the learner to
learn?
Create   a learning environment
 in which meaningful learning is
 facilitated and encouraged.




 IAMSE                July 21, 2003
How do we help the learner to
learn?
Create   a learning environment
 in which meaningful learning is
 facilitated and encouraged,
ie., create an active learning
 environment.


  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
What should this learning
environment provide?




 IAMSE              July 21, 2003
What should this learning
environment provide?
 Opportunities
              to acquire the
 needed information




  IAMSE                 July 21, 2003
What should this learning
environment provide?
 Opportunities to acquire the
  needed information
 Opportunities to test, and hence, to
  refine one’s mental model




  IAMSE                   July 21, 2003
What should this learning
environment provide?
 Opportunities to acquire the
  needed information
 Opportunities to test, and hence, to
  refine one’s mental model
 Opportunities to practice solving
  problems using one’s mental
  models
  IAMSE                   July 21, 2003
What should this learning
environment provide?
 Opportunities to acquire the
  needed information
 Opportunities to test, and hence, to
  refine one’s mental model
 Opportunities to practice solving
  problems using one’s mental
  models (with appropriate feedback)
  IAMSE                   July 21, 2003
The next to the last questions
If you build an active learning
environment will you have time to
“cover” everything? Does it
matter if you “cover” everything?



  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
Conclusions




 IAMSE        July 21, 2003
Conclusions
 The goal is meaningful learning
 (learning with understanding).




  IAMSE                  July 21, 2003
Conclusions
 The  goal is meaningful learning
  (learning with understanding).
 To achieve meaningful learning
  requires students to build
  appropriate mental models of
  whatever they are learning.



  IAMSE                   July 21, 2003
Conclusions
 The  goal is meaningful learning
  (learning with understanding).
 To achieve meaningful learning
  requires students to build
  appropriate mental models of
  whatever they are learning.
 Our job as teachers is to help the
  learner to achieve meaningful
  learning.
  IAMSE                   July 21, 2003
Final question for discussion
Is meaningful learning likely, or
even possible, in today’s medical
curriculum?




  IAMSE               July 21, 2003
IAMSE   July 21, 2003
Do  you assess meaningful
 learning?
What’s an appropriate model?
What misconceptions do your
 students bring with them?
Can you “cover” everything?
Is meaningful learning possible
 today?
  IAMSE               July 21, 2003

				
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