Critique of “Examples of Modeling” Written by Altalib and Yang

Nunthika Puthikanon
Indiana University in Bloomington

The article used for this critique is titled “Examples of modeling” and written by Saif Altalib and Myoungjin Yang Tollett from University of Georgia. The chapter begins with a scenario where cognitive modeling was used by an art professor, Dr. Khan, to demonstrate how to discriminate between historical works of art. The authors explained in great detail how Dr.Khan used cognitive modeling in his class. With an animation, the cognitive modeling method used by Dr.Khan is further visualized vividly. The authors then explain the definition of cognitive modeling strategies and tasks. They end the chapter with the explanation on the relationship between cognitive modeling and behavioral modeling.

A few key points from this chapter are listed below.

· A cognitive model should put the expert/teacher’s thoughts and reasons into words because students cannot otherwise see the thinking process.
· A cognitive task should be divided into sub-tasks. The expert then uses action verbs to describe these observable behaviors and the thinking process.
· A cognitive task is a task that is performed overtly, exposing mental activities.
· Visuals are better than words at triggering feelings, and they stay with us longer.
· A modeling is better facilitated when the expert is of the same age, sex, and race, is of apparent expertise, is of high status, and is friendly and helpful (Davis, Alexander, &
Yelon, 1974).
· Modeling is better facilitated when the modeling media is in detailed manner, in order from least to most difficult, is repeated, has minimum irrelevant details, is live or interactive, and is composed of different types of models.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Chapter

There are many positive aspects of this chapter as well as areas in which it could be vastly improved. First of all, the title of the chapter suggests that it will provide one or more examples of modeling. However, after reading the chapter, it seems to focus fairly exclusively on cognitive modeling, instead of behavioral or social modeling. In addition, this chapter provides explanations of modeling that limit its focus on giving examples of modeling. The authors may consider changing the title to “cognitive modeling” or “modeling” to better captures the objective of the chapter, depending on their actual purposes. Given the fact that this chapter follows the cognitive apprenticeship chapter, I assumed that this chapter will describe the concept of modeling in greater detail than it is explained in the cognitive apprenticeship chapter or explain more about how to apply this concept in a given learning context. Given the fact that the word, “modeling,” can mean many different things, it is vital to consider expanding the title of this chapter.

If the authors want to include further explanation of modeling, not only providing examples, they may want to start the chapter with some concepts, such as modeling in general or cognitive modeling. I would also like to know the differences between “modeling” and “cognitive modeling” because the title is “Examples of modeling” but it seems to focus only on “cognitive modeling.” They may also want to rearrange the flow of the chapter by moving the definition of “task” and placing it before the modeling scenario so that the reader understands all the concepts that will be mentioned in the scenario before reading the scenario. Then, they may present an explanation of modeling-related applications after the scenario.

The authors give a detailed description of a scenario where cognitive modeling is used in an art class. This scenario helped me understand how cognitive modeling is used in real life situations. However, the authors also might consider including a video clip of a brush stroke of a painting to give a better idea of what Dr. Khan refers to when he talks about brush strokes, length, and direction ( See and ). These video clips can also serve as another example of cognitive modeling, equipped with verbal explanation and visuals, which is deemed important in cognitive modeling. In this same way, the animation presented in the chapter helps me understand cognitive modeling strategies used by Dr. Khan much better than when it is only described in the text.

The sections on “cognitive modeling strategy” and “cognitive modeling and behavioral modeling” seem highly similar to me. They seem to explain how to use cognitive modeling in classrooms, so the authors may want to combine these two sections and re-title the section to something that suggests the application aspect of the theory, such as “application of cognitive modeling in classrooms.” Also, it seems that there is no research study mentioned in this section. A few studies conducted on cognitive modeling strategy would give us a clear idea of how it has been used in different contexts. Even though no references are given, the authors gave useful insights into how to design a modeling strategy by providing a list of things to keep in mind. Finally, this section can be further illustrated by using a video clip as an example to explain how a thinking process can be verbalized (See ).

In the “What is a task?” section, the authors elaborate on different types of tasks but focus on the cognitive task. The author may want to provide a link between types of tasks and the discussion of cognitive modeling as a whole. Subtasks are also mentioned in this section as components of a cognitive task. It would be interesting to see an actual sample list of subtasks, such as an example of criteria for making a decision, as mentioned in the chapter. This example may be in the form of a visual separate from the text to make the section more interesting. More references related to definitions of the cognitive task would also strengthen the credibility of this section.

The last section on “cognitive modeling and behavioral modeling” provides a detailed explanation of why behavioral modeling is related to cognitive modeling. The authors give a number of useful suggestions for real-life applications together with the necessary references. This section connects theory to practice and provides a clear understanding of why cognitive modeling is an important concept to learn. However, it is not quite clear to me how behavioral modeling is related to cognitive modeling. Are they different concepts or part of different types of modeling? As a result, I would like to learn more about the difference between cognitive modeling and behavioral modeling and how they are used differently in classrooms. It would also be more interesting to see some examples of suggestions provided in this section in the form of lesson plans or teaching materials.


This chapter taught me the concept of cognitive modeling and how I can apply cognitive modeling strategy in my class. The scenario serves as a good example of how cognitive modeling can be used in a classroom. The description of the sample scenario is further illustrated by the use of animation to visualize how Dr. Khan used this strategy in his own class. The scenario, therefore, gives me a clear understanding of how to apply this concept in a real-life situation. Another part of the chapter on modeling that I liked was the “cognitive modeling and behavioral modeling” section because it provided useful suggestions on how to apply cognitive modeling by using behavioral modeling. In sum, the overall quality of this chapter is of a satisfactory level. With some modification, this chapter will help the reader understand the concept of cognitive modeling and how to apply it in real-life situations.


Davis, R. H. and Alexander, L. T., and Yelon S. L. (1974). Learning System Design: An approach to the improvement of instruction. McGraw-Hill, Inc.