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Comparing expert and novice understanding of a complex system from the perspective of structures, behaviors, and functions

Comparing expert and novice understanding of a complex system from the perspective of structures, behaviors, and functions,10.1016/S0364-0213(03)00065

Comparing expert and novice understanding of a complex system from the perspective of structures, behaviors, and functions   (Citations: 71)
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Complex systems are pervasive in the world around us. Making sense of a complex system should require that a person construct a network of concepts and principles about some domain that represents key (often dynamic) phenomena and their interrelationships. This raises the question of how expert understanding of complex systems differs from novice understanding. In this study we examined individuals’ representations of an aquatic system from the perspective of structural (elements of a system), behavioral (mechanisms), and functional aspects of a system. Structure–Behavior–Function (SBF) theory was used as a framework for analysis. The study included participants from middle school children to preservice teachers to aquarium experts. Individual interviews were conducted to elicit participants’ mental models of aquaria. Their verbal responses and pictorial representations were analyzed using an SBF-based coding scheme. The results indicated that representations ranged from focusing on structures with minimal understanding of behaviors and functions to representations that included behaviors and functions. Novices’ representations focused on perceptually available, static components of the system, whereas experts integrated structural, functional, and behavioral elements. This study suggests that the SBF framework can be one useful formalism for understanding complex systems.
Journal: Cognitive Science - COGSCI , vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 127-138, 2004
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    • ...Students typically have difficulty reconciling their intuitions about cause and effect with the forms of mechanistic explanation valued by disciplines, whether the target phenomena include dropping balls or the functioning of aquatic systems (Abrams & Southerland, 2001; Chin & Brown, 2000; Hmelo-Silver & Pfeffer, 2004; Talanquer, 2010)...

    Molly S. Bolgeret al. Children's Mechanistic Reasoning

    • ...Mental models represent a complex form of domain specific knowledge (Hmelo-Silver & Pfeffer, 2004)...

    Kimberly S. Hesteret al. Causal Analysis to Enhance Creative Problem-Solving: Performance and E...

    • ...Second, at the end of each paragraph students were asked to answer focusing questions that asked about structures, behaviors, functions, and their relationships (Goel et al. 1996; Hmelo-Silver et al. 2007; Hmelo-Silver and Pfeffer 2004)...
    • ...They were then asked to ‘‘think aloud’’ while reviewing a text (adapted from Hmelo-Silver and Pfeffer 2004), hypermedia system (identical to those in Lui and Hmelo-Silver 2009), and diagrams for as long as they wished...

    Randi A. EnglePhiet al. The influence of framing on transfer: initial evidence from a tutoring...

    • ...For complex systems, this includes understanding of the structures and processes and how they interact to contribute to the functioning of the system (Hmelo et al. 2000; Hmelo-Silver and Pfeffer 2004)...
    • ...The adaptation included elements of a structure-behavior-function (SBF) analytic approach for assessing conceptual knowledge of complex systems (Hmelo et al. 2000; Hmelo-Silver and Pfeffer 2004)...
    • ...The coding procedure was adapted from Azevedo et al. (2004, 2005) coding of mental models and a structure‐behavior‐function analysis framework (Hmelo et al. 2000; Hmelo-Silver and Pfeffer 2004)...

    Fielding I. Winterset al. Peer collaboration: the relation of regulatory behaviors to learning w...

    • ...Novices tend to view a system such as this in terms of its superficial structures (e.g., the honeybee body parts) and behaviors (e.g., bees dance) instead of the functions of these behaviors and structures that experts note (e.g., the dance leads to faster nectar collection) (Hmelo-Silver and Azevedo 2006; Hmelo-Silver et al. 2007; Hmelo-Silver and Pfeffer 2004)...

    Joshua A. DanishKylieet al. Life in the Hive: Supporting Inquiry into Complexity Within the Zone o...

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