Imagistic simulation in scientific model construction
Clement, John J.

Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 25. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

The role of mental simulation in scientific learning processes is poorly understood. This paper examines video taped model construction protocols from an expert and a student to generate initial hypotheses concerning: the relationship between "runnable" schemas and imagery during mental simulation; and how assembling a scientific model from simpler runnable schemas can "transfer runnability" to the model. By the end of their learning episodes both the expert and the student appear to have acquired something more than a new symbolic relationship. They appear to have an imageable, runnable model where the imagability and runnability have been transferred or "inherited" from a source analogue. One source of support for this finding comes from observing similar depictive hand motions as subjects thought about the analogue case and later about the developing target model. Understanding schema driven imagistic simulations may eventually help us resolve the apparent paradox involved in learning from "running a new thought experiment in one's head."