Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cognitive Mapping to reveal the innate YOU! - Part One: Conceptual Framework

We have been quietly working away to complete the final stages of our soon-to-be-released (June 2007) Situational Knowledge Profiler a unique online tool produced to identify and map the innate way people utilise their knowledge; skills; attitudes and aptitudes at work and in social settings.

Our next few posts over the coming months are designed to give you an outline of its conceptual infrastructure and its potential for enhancing individual and organisational learning, knowledge sharing and networking.

This new and exciting tool is based upon the principles of cognitive mapping.

E.C Tolman (1948) is generally credited with the introduction of the term 'cognitive map'. Here, 'cognition' can be used to refer to the mental models, or belief systems, that people use to perceive, contextualize, simplify, and make sense of otherwise complex problems. Cognitive maps have been studied in various fields of science, such as psychology, archaeology, planning, geography and management. As a consequence, these mental models are often referred to, variously, as cognitive maps, scripts, schemata, and frames of reference.

Put more simply, cognitive maps are a way we use to structure and store spatial knowledge, allowing the "mind's eye" to visualize images in order to reduce cognitive load, and enhance recall and learning of information.

Anther definition of cognitive mapping comes from Downs and Stea who describe it as:

" a process composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an individual acquires, codes, stores, recalls, and decodes information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in their everyday spatial environment."

Source: Downs, R.M. and Stea, D.Cognitive Maps and Spatial Behavior: Process and products In Image and Environment Downs, R.M. and Stea, D. (Eds.) Chicago: Aldine (1973:8-26)

Concept mapping is a type of cognitive map, in this sense, representing a structured process, focused on a topic or construct of interest, involving input from one or more participants, that produces an interpretable pictorial view (concept map) of their ideas and concepts and how these are interrelated. Source:

Basically, a concept map is a graphical representation of the structure of knowledge. In the 1960s, Joseph D. Novak (1993) at Cornell University began to study the concept mapping technique. His work was based on the theories of David Ausubel (1968), who stressed the importance of prior knowledge in being able to learn about new concepts. Novak concluded that:

"Meaningful learning involves the assimilation of new concepts and propositions into existing cognitive structures."

A concept map is a graphical representation where nodes (points or vertices) represent concepts, and links (arcs or lines) represent the relationships between concepts. The concepts, and sometimes the links, are labelled on the concept map. The links between the concepts can be one-way, two-way, or non-directional. The concepts and the links may be categorized, and the concept map may show temporal or causal relationships between concepts.

In Part Two next month, we look at the potential to be gained from 'seeing' a concept map of your innate knowledge.

Have a good month.

The KnowledgeWorx team!
Józefa and David


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