M-MODEL: A Mental Model based Online Homework Tool


  • E.E. Anderson, R. Taraban, S.J. Robertson


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, engineering mechanics, and electrical circuits. MMODEL is a computer-based implementation of this approach to problem-solving. It requires students 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 students with feedback that can be used to correct or improve their models. Once students are satisfied with their models, M-MODEL proceeds to solve their equations as well as display the correct solution for them to compare to their models. M-MODEL also provides tools that individual authors can use to prepare problem models. An applied field test was carried out using M-MODEL with engineering solid mechanics students. The experimental group used M-MODEL to solve homework problems while a control group used traditional methods to solve the same problems. M-MODEL did result in a learning advantage for the experimental group.




How to Cite

E.E. Anderson, R. Taraban, S.J. Robertson. (2022). M-MODEL: A Mental Model based Online Homework Tool. Journal of Online Engineering Education, 1(2). Retrieved from http://onlineengineeringeducation.com/index.php/joee/article/view/18