M-MODEL: An online tool for promoting student problem solving utilizing mental models

Edward Anderson, Roman Taraban, S. J. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Students solve problems by developing mental models of the problem. Although these models are many and diverse, a common one used in engineering education consists of identifying the known and unknown variables, constructing a graphical problem representation, and developing a mathematical model representing the preceding steps. This is particularly the case for courses in physics, mechanics, and electrical circuits. M-MODEL is a computer-based implementation of this approach to problem-solving. It requires users to build the known/unknown, graphical (free-body diagram in this paper), and mathematical models of a problem. Once the student creates a complete model, M-MODEL checks it for errors such as proper number of graphical elements, naming of variables, and equation formatting. These checks also provide users with feedback that can be used to correct or improve their models. Once users are satisfied with their models, M-MODEL proceeds to solve their equations as well as display t
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of On-Line Engineering Education
StatePublished - Dec 2010


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