Team Mental Models: Techniques, Methods, and Analytic Approaches

By Langan-Fox, Janice; Code, Sharon et al. | Human Factors, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Team Mental Models: Techniques, Methods, and Analytic Approaches


Langan-Fox, Janice, Code, Sharon, Langfield-Smith, Kim, Human Factors


Effective team functioning requires the existence of a shared or team mental model among members of a team. However, the best method for measuring team mental models is unclear. Methods reported vary in terms of how mental model content is elicited and analyzed or represented. We review the strengths and weaknesses of various methods that have been used to elicit, represent, and analyze individual and team mental models and provide recommendations for method selection and development. We describe the nature of mental models and review techniques that have been used to elicit and represent them. We focus on a case study on selecting a method to examine team mental models in industry. The processes involved in the selection and development of an appropriate method for eliciting, representing, and analyzing team mental models are described. The criteria for method selection were (a) applicability to the problem under investigation; (b) practical considerations - suitability for collecting data from the targeted research sample; and (c) theoretical rationale - the assumption that associative networks in memory are a basis for the development of mental models. We provide an evaluation of the method matched to the research problem and make recommendations for future research. The practical applications of this research include the provision of a technique for analyzing team mental models in organizations, the development of methods and processes for eliciting a mental model from research participants in their normal work environment, and a survey of available methodologies for mental model research.

INTRODUCTION

In the past decade many organizations have come to rely on teams in a variety of different decision-making and management contexts (Coates, 1996; Jacobs & James, 1994; Kozlowski, 1995; Magney, 1995; Marchington, Wilkinson, Ackers, & Goodman, 1994). Teams can take the form of autonomous work groups, labor management committees, product development teams, special purpose decision-making teams, management teams, or employee participation teams. Teams are often used as a means of increasing the level of industrial democracy - that is, to encourage "the significant involvement of workers in important workplace decisions that affect their everyday lives" (Davis & Lansbury, 1996, p. 23).

According to past research, effective team functioning requires the existence of a shared or team mental model among members of a team (Cannon-Bowers, Tannenbaum, Salas, & Volpe, 1995; Converse, Cannon-Bowers, & Salas, 1991; Duffy, 1992). In fact, some organizations purposefully seek to influence the development of a team mental model. Researchers in a variety of disciplines have sought to elicit and represent mental models. These include education (Morine-Dershimer, Saunders, Artiles, & Mostert, 1992; Winitzky, Kauchak, & Kelly, 1994), aviation (Cannon-Bowers, Salas, & Converse, 1993; Rouse,

Cannon-Bowers, & Salas, 1992), and organizational/management settings (Daniels, de Chernatony, & Johnson, 1995; Langfield-Smith & Wirth, 1992). However, the best method for elicitation and representation is unclear.

Methods reported in the literature vary in terms of how mental model content is elicited (e.g., verbal protocol analysis, repertory grid) and analyzed or represented (e.g., ordered tree and scaling techniques). Furthermore, differing notions of mental models have led to some confusion about their conceptual underpinning (Klimoski & Mohammed, 1994). This presents a problem for the researcher attempting to use valid and reliable methods. The purpose of this paper is to review the strengths and weaknesses of various methods that have been used to elicit, represent, and analyze individual and team mental models and to provide guidelines for method selection and development in mental models research.

In part 1 we describe the nature of mental models and provide a review of the techniques that have been used to elicit and represent them.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Team Mental Models: Techniques, Methods, and Analytic Approaches
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.