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Norbert M. Seel, Dirk Ifenthaler and Pablo Pirnay-Dummer

In this chapter we focus on the progression of mental models in performing complex problems within a given subject domain. We begin with a short review of two major lines of problem solving research, namely the North American and European lines. We then discuss the functions of mental models and complex problem solving, which provide a unique challenge for researchers in the field of learning and instruction. From the perspective of mental model theory, we argue that complex problem solving requires iterative steps of hypothesis testing, which involves the construction and reorganization of appropriate mental models. If our instructional goal is to facilitate the progression of mental models, we have to assess the learning-dependent progression of mental models. However, one central problem of mental model research is the diagnosis of the progression of mental models. The analysis of different approaches for measuring change in mental models leads to a unique approach for a systematic diagnosis of the progression of mental models. The chapter concludes with a discussion of different formats and representations for the diagnosis of mental models.