DBPapers
DOI: 10.5593/sgem2017/54/S22.014

MENTAL MODELS ABOUT NATURAL HAZARDS: A STUDY WITH GRADUATION STUDENTS

S. Moutinho,R. Moura, C. Vasconcelos
Tuesday 12 September 2017 by Libadmin2017

References: 17th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2017, www.sgem.org, SGEM2017 Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7408-11-9 / ISSN 1314-2704, 29 June - 5 July, 2017, Vol. 17, Issue 54, 105-112 pp, DOI: 10.5593/sgem2017/54/S22.014

ABSTRACT

According to Johnson Lairds’ Mental Models Theory, people develop internal representations of the natural world – mental models – that they use to interact with the world and understand the phenomena around them. Having this in mind, we could understand that students develop their knowledge through the construction of mental models, which help them to develop scientific reasoning and make decisions, being the basis of individual behaviors.
In this context, it is assume that the use of methodologies that enable students to restructure their mental models to make them more consistent with the scientific models. Model-Based Learning is a methodology that allows students to construct their knowledge, through the manipulation of models that promote an autonomous, dynamic, motivating and meaningful learning. Based on Model-Based Learning it was developed an intervention program which included the manipulation of three types of models – computational model, physical model and a mixed model – that allows the study of the seismic effects on soils and buildings. This intervention program was applied to 20 graduation students from a public university in Portugal.
This work aimed to analyze the development of 20 graduation students’ knowledge about the natural hazards trough their answers in a pre and post-test, applied before and after the intervention program, where they could manipulate the three types of models to solve some problems related to seismological hazards. The analysis of the results led us to conclude that the post-test, applied after the intervention program, allows seeing a significant increase in students’ knowledge, related to natural hazards. As so, the authors argue that the use of models should be more explored in science education, because they are important in the learning process, since they help students in the restructure of their mental models, to make them more congruent with the scientific models.

Keywords: Higher education students, meaningful learning, mental models, natural hazards, seismology.