Because experts rely on organized knowledge structures for skilled performance, it is useful in training to elicit and represent these structures. Psychologists employ representations such as hierarchical clustering, multidimensional scaling and Pathfinder. However, their use has been limited by the time and effort required to collect pairwise similarity ratings. We developed a Target Method, in which participants place items in concentric circles representing relatedness to a concept. This eliminates the need to rate items unrelated to the target. The present studies compared the traditional (Pairs) rating method with the new Target approach. Contrary to predictions, the Target Method took more time to complete; however, it was more efficient for each judgment obtained because it yields directional data. Additionally, the Target Method yielded knowledge structures with higher intra-group similarities, and more experienced users preferred the Target Method. The Target Method provides an additional, and useful, technique for obtaining similarity judgments.
Tossell, C.C., Schvaneveldt, R.W. & Branaghan, R. J. (2010). Targeting knowledge structures: A new method to elicit the relatedness of concepts. Journal of Cognitive Technology, 15(2), 11-19.