Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Mental Models in Improving Learning

  • Monica BucciarelliEmail author
  • Ilaria Cutica
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_669



The mental model construct is used to describe the kind of mental representations individuals build when they reason about a certain matter; a mental model is an internal representation of a real or fictional state of affairs, and is usually built on-the-spot to deeply understand and reason about the state of affairs. Mental models that become permanent through cognitive or physical practice are schemas. Learners construct mental models in response to specific learning situations for which no schema is available or the available schema does not fit the situation. In other words, when confronted with new learning tasks, learners have to construct a mental model integrating their preexisting knowledge and the new information from the learning environment, along with proper inferences that can be drawn from these. This model has to be reconstructed several times to become a schema, i.e., to be...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Cognitive Science and Department of PsychologyUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Human Environmental SciencesUniversity of MilanMilanItaly