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A Functional View Toward Mental Representations

Abstract

The notion of representation plays an essential role for theories of learning and teaching. Without the notion of representation it seems impossible to describe how human beings are able to learn and communicate. To answer empirical questions about creating and using representations, you need a detailed analysis of the notion of representation and its functional and ontological importance. This chapter will sharpen up the notion of representation and classify several core aspects of the notion of representation. In particular, the conceptual distinction between external and mental (internal) representations is crucial to educational studies. In a further step, the relation to other nearby notions is examined, so that representations can be discriminated from notions like a pure perception, an immediate experience, a model, a schema, or a script. A student must be able to “transform” mental representations into external ones in order to provide evidence of successful learning. In addition to above questions, questions about how to operate on representations will be discussed as well. The pure “having” of representation alone does not help that much; you have to be able to search, to sort, to generalize, etc. to acquire the ability to solve problems and to learn. To say it in a nutshell, after creating a representation in your head you have to be able to get it out again.

Keywords

  • Representation
  • External vs. mental
  • Learning and teaching
  • Clarification of notions
  • Philosophy of mind

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Correspondence to Anna Strasser .

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Strasser, A. (2010). A Functional View Toward Mental Representations. In: Ifenthaler, D., Pirnay-Dummer, P., Seel, N. (eds) Computer-Based Diagnostics and Systematic Analysis of Knowledge. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5662-0_2

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