Bashirah Ibrahim and
N. Sanjay Rebello
The study investigates the kinds of mental representations constructed by engineering students at Kansas State University when solving problems in the context of kinematics. A cohort of 19 students completed six non-directed tasks posed in different representational forms (mathematical, linguistic and graphical) requiring the generation of linguistic or mathematical models. Individual interviews were conducted immediately after completing the tasks. Based on the students' actions when solving the problems together with their interview responses, two main profiles emerged from the data. The profiles were then related to Johnson-Laird cognitive framework for inferring about the categories of cognitive structures. The framework proposes three types of internal constructs: propositional representations, mental models and mental images. It is argued that comprehension occurs upon the construction of mental models. However, this study revealed that a majority (11 in 19) of the participants use propositional representation while the remaining students construct a mental image
Published February 6, 2012
Last Modified April 25, 2012
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