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Research on Expertise PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joseph Lao, Ph.D.   
Sunday, 19 December 2010 18:10
>> Research on Expertise

  • Development of Expertise: For many years Developmental Psychologists have been studying the nature of human development. We are exploring such fundamental questions as what is the nature of development, what is it that develops, how do people develop, and most recently how can we best nurture development? Most contemporary Developmental Psychologists (including Deanna Kuhn, Kurt Fischer, ???) agree that development consists at least in part in the improvement of our capacities. ADCI is founded on the premise that much of human development may be construed as the accumulation of knowledge and skills. These develop in diverse broad domains (e.g., cognitive, emotional, physical, social), and specific domains (e.g., walking, talking, reading, thinking, learning, and even in being a parent).

    Although a great deal of knowledge has been accumulated by Developmental Psychologists, another group of researchers has been studying the nature and development of high levels of skills. These researchers (including John Anderson, Neil Charness, and K. Anders Ericsson) have made significant advances in mapping out the nature of expertise and how expertise develops. ADCI is uniquely situated between Developmental Psychology and the researchers on Expertise. Our research goals include mapping the nature of expertise in diverse domains, applying the principles of Developmental Psychology to better understand the development of expertise and finally to apply the principles of human development to determine how best to nurture the development of expertise. In this respect, our work may be thought of as falling under the heading of Applied Developemental Psychology.

  • Testing of Expertise: Because expertise develops in so many different domains it is important to consider whether there are common threads across these different domains. A central question pertains to whether it is possible to create common standards for testing of expertise across multiple domains? Are there certain performance characteristics that are expected of experts across multiple domains? We at ADCI believe that expertise is a multidimensional phenomenon. That is, expertise in any given domain is likely to include cognitive, emotional, physical, and perhaps even social dimensions. These include such characteristics as greater memory in their area or expertise, greater ability to harness their emotions, faster response times, and meeting society's standards of expertise. Expertise is also multidimensional in the sense that it engages multiple dimensions of each domain. For instance, expertise in chess requires mastery of pawn position, strategy, tactics, peice position, use of time, etc.... Accordingly, the assessment of expertise must take into account the different dimensions that are pertinent to expertise in any given domain. This suggests that the ideal tests of expertise should also be multidimensional.

  • Nurturing Expertise: What is the optimum way to nurture expertise? Are all training methods equally effective? Do some methods work better with some people than others? ADCI is exploring these issues. Certainly, the best teaching methods are most likely to adapt to the state and needs of the learner within a given context. However, are there general principles that apply to all, or most, learners. A long history of Developmental Psychology, and the short history of the study of expertise, both suggest the answer is yes. ADCI is looking for some of these common threads of teaching and learning expertise.
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