Department of Instructional Technology, Utah State University
This paper describes knowledge components that are thought to be appropriate and sufficient to precisely describe certain types of cognitive subject matter content (knowledge). It also describes knowledge structures that show the relationships among these knowledge components and among other knowledge objects. It suggests that a knowledge structure is a form of schema such as those that learners use to represent knowledge in memory. A mental model is a schema plus cognitive processes for manipulating and modifying the knowledge stored in a schema. We suggested processes that enable learners to manipulate the knowledge components of conceptual network knowledge structures for purposes of classification, generalization, and concept elaboration. We further suggested processes that enable learners to manipulate the knowledge components of process knowledge structures (PEAnets) for purposes of explanation, prediction, and trouble shooting. The hypothesis of this paper is that knowledge components and knowledge structures, such as those described in this paper, could serve as meta mental models that would enable learners to more easily acquire conceptual and causal networks and their associated processes. The resulting specific mental models would facilitate their ability to solve problems of conceptualization and interpretation.