Comparing mental models

Comparing mental models

Difficult real-world problems are often open-ended. There is no one answer but rather a set of perspectives, reflecting the different beliefs and values of stakeholders. The fundamental question addressed in this project is: how can we measure the gap between perspectives? This assessment problem is useful in many contexts. For example, in an educational context, teachers are often reluctant to provide open-ended problems as they are difficult to grade. Automatically finding differences between a student’s answer and an expert’s perspective could thus offer the key support that educators need. Similarly, in participative modeling, groups of stakeholders are often assumed to be homogeneous based on a few variables (e.g., job or role in the community). Measuring their actual differences could provide a more accurate tool to design working groups with either shared or complementary perspectives, depending on the task. Our approach to measuring the gap between perspectives is rooted in network theory. We’re currently implementing our approach, with a pilot study planned for Fall 2017.

Key collaborator:

  • Dr Andrew Tawfik, Northern Illinois University, USA