Mapping Techniques

Formal methods that support decision making include performance assessment and suffer from the dichotomy between quantitative and qualitative approaches, since mathematical models cannot reproduce the complexity of the real world. Despite that, it is possible to provide tools that can make explicit the assumptions or factors that were left out of formal analysis, a threatening to sensitiveness that can be termed as unknown unknowns.

Techniques for mapping (unknown) knowledge about a problem arise in several fields, like Operational Research, management Sciences, Ergonomics and Scientific Learning. They take different names and assume slightly different forms, though keeping the essential potential for metacognitive elicitation toward an organizational problem. Three examples are the Concept maps, Thinking maps and Cognitive maps.

Concept Maps were developed by Joseph Novak around 1972, based on Ausubel’s theory that meaningful learning only takes place when new concepts are connected to what is already known. Concept maps are networks, in which concepts are labeled and connected through graphical links.

David Hyerle developed the Thinking Maps, where mind operators are categorized, to interconnect ideas and allow students to transfer experiences among three contexts: personal, work-related and academic learning.

Cognitive Maps were based on the Theory of Personal Constructs of George Kelly. It is an important tool of the Problem Structuring Method SODA proposed by Colin Eden, according to whom, one of the interesting features of Cognitive Maps is that the decision-maker can learn about the situation, thanks to the reflexive characteristic of the maps.

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