טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentAriav Lee
SubjectShared Mental Models and ZPD in Teaching and Learning
Architecture
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisors Professor Tali Tal
Professor Emeritus Gabriela Goldschmidt


Abstract

Scholars agree that architecture cannot be taught in the traditional 'frontal teaching' mode, as architectural design involves sharing of knowledge and skills which cannot be fully explained. Nevertheless, one can learn how to think like an architect by learning-by-doing, a learning process usually performed under the guidance of a studio master (coach) in a studio setting, which, since the 19th century has been the format of choice for teaching architecture in the western world (although not in the exact form currently implemented). The coach accompanies and guides the students in their architectural problem-solving endeavors; however, she/he cannot ‘teach’ them exactly how this is accomplished. The student-coach team therefore relies on Shared Mental Models (SMM) which allow a common basis for formulation and acquisition of complex declarative and procedural knowledge, jointly producing designerly ways of knowing. A mental model represents knowledge about how something looks and works in the real world and is constructed by means of tacit mental processes. Sharing mental models in the studio is crucial, seeing they provide a major instrument for learning and bridging the gap between the coach’s and student’s knowledge and for establishing a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The ZPD is often characterized as the distance between problem solving abilities exhibited by a learner working alone and these abilities when assisted by or collaborating with more experienced others.

This research studies, characterizes and compares mental models shared by student-coach teams in the 1st and 3rd year studios at the Technion Faculty of Architecture (n=22). First year teams include one coach and one novice student, as opposed to a coach and an advanced beginner student in the third year. Data obtained in the studio setting (including critique and review protocols, memos and artefacts) were analyzed using grounded theory (GT) methodology, as it proposes methods suitable for studying individual processes, interpersonal relations and reciprocal effects between individuals, as well as larger social processes. Credibility and rigor were ensured by means of inter-rater reliability and member-checking. The research’s major contributions are:

1.         Common or extended ZPDs are discovered in both years studied, evolving from a 'coach-centric' ZPD in the 1st year (suited to novices) to a 'student-centric' in the 3rd year (suited to advanced beginners), where - based on their accrued mental models - students themselves begin fulfilling some of the roles of the More Knowledgeable Other.

2.         A taxonomy of shared mental models in the studio is presented, clarifying the nature and evolution of the knowledge exchange in the student-coach team.

3.         The concept of sharedness Levels (SDlev) is introduced, elucidating the differences and development in shared mental models from 1st to 3rd year studios; and

4.         A new concept of Scaffolding space is formulated, providing a new insight on how mental models are shared by team members by means of inter-contextualization through rapid and seamless transition between different and synergetic scaffoldings, enabling the learner to bridge the gap between potential and actual development and actually apply the shared mental models in his/her own specific way.