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INTRODUCTION Discovering what the users of a computer software system do know and should know are important goals in current research on human-computer interaction. Research on the kinds of knowledge people have when they use computers, including the concept of a mental mode} of the system, is one of the major topics that is bringing the field of human-computer interaction from the tra- dition of human factors closer to that of experimental/cognitive psychology. Traditional human factors work has focused principal attention on behavior and performance itself, and has avoided the problem of describing the conceptual causes and effects of that behavior. On the other hand, while academic cognitive psychol- ogy does concern itself with theoretical interpretations of mental processes, it has focused on narrowly restricted mental processes, such as particular aspects of learning, memory, problem solving, or planning, and has studied them in the context of highly controlled and contrived laboratory tasks. The study of knowledge represen- tations of users of computer-based systems affords an opportunity to explore both the theoretical base of behavior as well as specific behaviors in tasks that involve many different cognitive processes in concert. Because a number of researchers are concerned with mental representations, and because this topic has an impact on cognitive psychology and software human factors, there is an emerging need to clarify the concepts underlying knowledge representation and mental models as they apply to human-computer interaction. We intend to fill this need by reviewing relevant current research and presenting a preliminary framework of the kinds of mental representations of procedures people might have. MODELS OF WHAT, HEED BY WHOM? Several key distinctions need to be recognized in discussing mental representations and mental models in human-computer in- teraction. For example, various individuals are concerned with using or designing a piece of software, and they hold different conceptions of it. These individuals include the user, the software 3