Miners' Misconceptions of Flow Distribution Within Circuits as a Factor Influencing Underground Mining Accidents.
Misconceptions can be thought of as naive approaches to problem solving that are perceptually appealing but incorrect and inconsistent with scientific evidence (Piaget, 1929). One type of misconception involves flow distributions within circuits. This concept is important because miners' conceptual errors about flow distribution changes within complex circuits may be in part responsible for fatal mine disasters. Based on the theory that misconceptions of flow distribution changes within circuits were responsible for underground mine disasters involving mine ventilation circuits, a series of studies was undertaken with mining engineering students, professional mining engineers, as well as mine foremen, mine supervisors, mine rescue members, mine maintenance personnel, mining researchers and working miners to identify these conceptual errors and errors in mine ventilation procedures. Results indicate that misconceptions of flow distribution changes within circuits exist in over 70 percent of the subjects sampled. It is assumed that these misconceptions of flow distribution changes within circuits result in errors of judgment when miners are faced with inferring and changing ventilation arrangements when two or more mine sections are connected. Furthermore, it is assumed that these misconceptions are pervasive in the mining industry and may be responsible for at least two mine ventilation disasters. The findings of this study are consistent with Piaget's (1929) model of figurative and operative knowledge. This model states that misconceptions are in part due to a lack of knowledge of dynamic transformations and how to apply content information. Recommendations for future research include the development of an interactive expert system for training miners with ventilation arrangements. Such a system would meet the educational recommendations made by Piaget (1973b) by involving a hands-on approach that allows discovery, interaction, the opportunity to make mistakes and to review the cognitive concepts on which the subject relied during his manipulation of the ventilation system.
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- Education: Educational Psychology; Engineering: Mining; Physics: General