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From Uncertainly Exact to Certainly Vague: Epistemic Uncertainty and Approximation in Science and Engineering Problem Solving

Schunn, CD (2010) From Uncertainly Exact to Certainly Vague: Epistemic Uncertainty and Approximation in Science and Engineering Problem Solving. In: UNSPECIFIED UNSPECIFIED, 227 - 252. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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Epistemic uncertainty is a huge area of scholarship. It has captured the minds of scholars in psychology and many domain-specific studies of reasoning and problem solving. What does it mean to resolve uncertainty? This chapter explores the idea that resolution of uncertainty in complex science and engineering fields frequently ends with approximations rather than precise answers. The chapter begins by examining language to motivate the core distinction between uncertainty and approximation. Then, the chapter explores whether the distinction can be defended empirically in reliable and valid coding of speech and gesture data in multiple science and engineering domains. Novice/Expert changes in uncertainty and approximation levels are also explored. Finally, three examinations of temporal patterns of co-occurrence with uncertainty and approximation are presented in multiple problem-solving domains to provide an overall model of uncertainty being transformed to approximation through spatial reasoning and mental simulations. © 2010, Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Schunn, CDschunn@pitt.eduSCHUNN0000-0003-3589-297X
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Learning Research & Development Center
Date: 1 January 2010
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Volume: 53
Number: C
Page Range: 227 - 252
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1016/s0079-7421(10)53006-8
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0079-7421
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2014 20:15
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2018 13:00


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