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Chapter 13: Linking Cognitive Science and Disciplinary Geoscience Practice: The Importance of the Conceptual Model
This chapter integrates concepts from cognitive science with disciplinary geoscience practice, to illustrate how different disciplines can collaborate on research and expand what is known in both fields. We consider the practice and goals of structural geology within an observation-prediction framework, adapted from the perception-action framework of Ulric Neisser. In this framework, the geologist has a conceptual model, about which she or he can reason about the world, and that forms the link between predictions and observations. The scientist engages in predictions based on a conceptual model and seeks out observations to confirm or revise this model. This approach is applied to how geoscientists engage in both geometric reasoning (in the subsurface; volumetric thinking) and kinematic reasoning. We then consider how the three principle types of structural geology analyses (geometric, kinematic, and dynamic) and empirical vs. theoretical approaches to solving problems interact with the observation-prediction framework. Finally, we outline how this observation-prediction cycle might be generalized to geoscience education and the practice of other sciences.
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