Mental Models in Contemporary Education -- Case Essay

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Mental Models in Contemporary Education -- Case Study

There are many mental models within contemporary education that reflect relatively rigid ideas, beliefs, and expectations about fundamental aspects of the educational process. Among one of the most common is the assumption that academic instruction necessarily rely heavily on the medium of textbook readings and passive learning in class from lecture-based methods of instruction. Meanwhile, there is substantial evidence that only a relative minority of students learn best from reading lectures; many others absorb information better through other media, particularly since the explosion of the digital age and increased availability of high-quality video media.

On one hand, many students would be more receptive to and interested in their academic studies if they were presented in on-screen formats. On the other hand, most contemporary educators still consider on-screen media to be more appropriate for entertainment and are not particularly receptive to the idea of allowing high school students to learn social studies, history, or other basic academic subjects through videos instead of textbooks. Unless a method can be devised to help educators become more open-minded about the many different ways that students can learn substantive course material, it is unlikely that education systems will be able to incorporate additional media to help some students learn in ways that are more compatible with their personal learning styles.

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Essay on Mental Models in Contemporary Education -- Case Assignment

Because mental models typically exist and exert their influence tacitly and unconsciously (Duffy, 2009), any method for addressing the problem must increase awareness of mental models in conjunction with demonstrations of empirical bases for considering change. Duffy (2009) describes various paradigms in contemporary educations: group-based teaching and learning, bureaucratic organization design, reactive public relations, and piecemeal change. Perhaps the paradigm that must be addressed directly (and first) in connection with proposal to incorporate video-based substantive lessons as a partial replacement for traditional textbook-based methods would be the piecemeal-change paradigm. Even if expanding educational methods in this manner would benefit students, it would likely be difficult to make that transition on any large scale because of the piecemeal-change paradigm and the barrier posed by the mental model that views video-based media as unsuitable for substantive academic learning. Another barrier would be the concern that replacing any portion of the textbook-based curriculum with video media would reduce the practice available in the most fundamental skills of reading.

Therefore, the most appropriate method to address the problem should consist of elements corresponding to both of those concerns in addition to the more general issue of the unconscious nature of mental models in principle. More specifically, to overcome the barrier of the unconscious mental modeling process, the method to address this problem should first provide a practical demonstration of the extent to which all of us maintain unconscious beliefs and expectations that may interfere and limit our ability to appreciate alternative points-of-view that conflict with those established mental models.

Once the audience appreciates the existence, nature, and influence of mental models, the second element of a practical method of addressing this problem should emphasize the anticipated concerns on the part of educators that video-based instructional methodologies have been empirically demonstrated to promote comparable substantive learning to traditional methods of academic instruction (Choi & Johnson, 2007; Franciszkowicz, 2008). Finally, the third element of a suitable method of addressing this problem would be to resolve the concerns of educators who worry that replacing any part of the traditional textbook-based instruction with video lessons could jeopardize the most important of all educational goals: namely, to promote reading comprehension skills.

Therefore, a practical approach to solving the identified problem would first introduce the audience to the concept of mental modeling and help educators recognize some of the specific mental models about education that dominate their perceptions. That introduction should transition to a presentation of the empirical evidence documenting the relative effectiveness from the perspective of substantive learning and substantive lesson retention among learners taught through video-based instruction instead of traditional instructional methods.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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