Development of Cognitive Mapping Analysis Tool

Cognitive Mapping or CM - sometimes called Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping- is a process by which an individual, group of individual, or groups of individuals can identify a central topic and over prolonged discussion, identify the various factors which relate to that topic. CM has been recently applied to explore issues in First Nations communities by researchers at the University of Ottawa to, for example, explore factors associated with diabetes (diet, lifestyle, education, etc) and to weigh these various factors associated with the central theme as strongly or weakly, positively or negatively. The information can then be collated and analyzed to ‘rank’ the primary and secondary factors which are most important in relation to the central issues. Different groups of participants (e.g. youth, elders, police, health care professions, etc) identify different factors. The different perspectives between these groups helps identify disconnects in understanding. The CM process has been successfully used to fully explore issues within a First Nations community to help direct funding, programs or resources by governing bodies. However, the analysis by which CM is undertaken (i.e. taking the results of a workshop and ranking the various factors) is not well defined and currently exists in a format – a series of interrelated spreadsheets – which are not easily accessible outside of the University of Ottawa. This internship with SolAero Ltd., a health risk consulting firm, seeks to develop an accessible mathematical model which can be easily applied as a tool to obtain and evaluate process results from workshops planned to be undertaken in First Nations communities in northern Alberta.

Jia Shen
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. John H. Dennis