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Causal Maps, Mental Models and Assessing Acquisition of Expertise
J. Micheal Spector, Vanessa P. Dennen and Titiffany A. Koszalka

A recurrent theme in the research and popular literature pertains to new learning and instructional perspectives and technologies. New information and communications technologies and research in cognitive science have prompted much of the discussion about new ways to think about learning, instruction and performance. This paper takes a critical look at new approaches to instruction and new methods to support learning. One conclusion is that interest in and emphasis on complex cognitive tasks (e.g., crisis management, environmental planning, and health policy formulation) is part of what is new in the world of learning, instruction and performance. New assessment methods are required in order to sustain progress in skill improvement and understanding in complex domains. A framework for assessing learning, instruction and performance in the context of complex cognitive tasks is presented along with initial findings with regard to the utility of this methodology.

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