Experts & Novices:
Implications for
Learning, Teaching and
Mona Birch
Eleanor Pusey
Expert or Novice?
View the following clip and pay close
attention to the mathematical reasoning
used to show: 13 x 7 = 28
As your first test of “expert-ness”, be
prepared to discuss the 3 methods used.
Experts vs. Novices
• Novices may just use information
while experts make a deliberate
effort to improve performance
• Practice doesn’t make perfect;
perfect practice makes perfect!
Experts vs. Novices
3 important findings:
1. Experts have acquired mechanisms to
change performances of novices
2. Novices use procedural knowledge
without connection where an expert
chooses the most appropriate and
efficient strategy for the context
3. Experts help novices become independent
learners by designing and monitoring
their activities
What is an Expert?
“…experts excel mainly in their domain
of expertise…perform their tasks
(almost) error free, have superior
short-term and long-term memory…”
(Gog, Ericsson, Rikers, and Paas, 2005, p. 75)
According to Schneider, it is “rich domainspecific knowledge” that defines an expert.
K. Anders Ericsson
Florida State University
Conradi Eminent Scholar
Cognitive Psychology Faculty
Research Interests:
• Thinking, reasoning and planning that
mediate problem solving, learning and
skilled performance.
• The acquisition of expert performance
through deliberate practice.
• The structure and acquisition of LongTerm Working Memory.
Wolfgang Schneider
Wuerzburg, Germany
Vice President of the Julius-Maximilians
Research topics include:
• Memory development
• Metacognition
• Reading research
Video interlude
“Once you learn something it never
leaves ya’…when you learn something,
you learn it.” (Barnard P. Fife)
Verbal Memory
Do memory skills improve by factors
indexed by age or because of experience?
A small percentage of people never
acquire specific strategies indexed by an
2. Memory development is advanced by
learning experiences in school
(Schneider, Knopf, and Stefanek, 2002)
Children’s Memory
• Students need a good background
• Good background enables
development of good strategies
• The more “chunking” of material can
prompt more general strategies
(Schneider, Stefanek, & Knopf, 2002)
(How People Learn, p. 52)
Memory Task
Memory Task
Memory Schemes
Memory Schemes
Memory Task
Strategy Implications
“Studies showed that children’s
prior knowledge substantially
affects their choice of memory
strategies and significantly
influences memory performance.”
(Schneider, Korkel, and Weinert, 1989, p. 306)
Understanding vs. Memorizing
What does memorization have to do
with understanding and vice versa?
What holds these two ideas together?
(How People Learn, p. 57)
Key Principles - Experts
1. Meaningful Patterns
2. Conditionalized Knowledge
3. Big Ideas
4. Pedagogical Content Knowledge
5. Fluent Retrieval
6. Adaptive Expertise
(Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000)
Principle #1: Patterns
Experts notice features and meaningful
patterns of information not noticed by
• Chess example (Chase, Simon)
• Data collected by Singley & Anderson about
algebra courses
• Providing “lecture readiness”
(How People Learn, p. 59)
Principle #1: Patterns
What are some of the barriers in schools that
might prevent students from learning this
principle (i.e. noting meaningful patterns)?
• Block scheduling
• Mile wide/inch deep curriculum
What solutions can address these barriers?
Principle #1: Patterns
As experts, you each have a set of heuristics
that you draw on to solve particular types of
Categorize each type and identify specific
strategies and procedures used to solve it.
Example: Flying east between 2 cities, a
plane’s speed is 380 miles per hour. On the
return trip, it flies 420 miles per hour. Find
the average speed for the round trip.
Problem Types
Jerry walks 1 block east along a vacant lot and then
2 blocks north to a friend’s house. Phil starts at the
same point and walks diagonally through the vacant
lot coming out at the same point as Jerry. If Jerry
walked 217 feet east and 400 feet north, how far
did Phil walk?
A box containing 180 cubic inches is constructed by
cutting each corner of a cardboard square a small
square with side 5 inches, and then turning up the
sides. Find the area of the original cardboard piece.
(Problems from Hinsley, Hayes, & Simon, 1977)
Problem Types
Mr. Russo takes 3 minutes less than Mr. Lloyd to
pack a case when each works alone. One day, after
Mr. Russo spent 6 minutes in packing a case, the
boss called him away and Mr. Lloyd finished packing
in 4 more minutes. How many minutes would it take
Mr. Russo alone to pack a case.
Find the sum of the first 25 odd positive integers.
If canned tomatoes come in 2 sizes, with radius of
one 2/3 of the radius of the other, find the ratios
of the capacities of the two cans.
(Problems from Hinsley, Hayes, & Simon, 1977)
Principle #2: Context/Access
• Experts’ knowledge cannot be
reduced to a set of isolated facts
rather it reflects contexts of
Their knowledge is “conditionalized” on
a set of circumstances
Principle #2: Context/Access
Example: When do you expose kids’ to
word problems that require them to
set up/solve a system of equations?
• Gagne & Gibson’s strategy of
“contrasting cases” (p. 60 HPL)
Principle #3: Big Ideas
• Experts have extensive content
knowledge, organized in ways that
reflect a deep understanding of their
Activity: Card Sort
(Stein, M.K. et al, 1990)
(Stein, M.K. et al, 1990)
Expert teacher
“In general, teachers with more explicit and
better organized knowledge tend to
provide instruction that features
conceptual connections, appropriate and
varied representations, and active and
meaningful student discourse.”
(Stein, M.K. et al, 1990, p. 641)
Novice teacher
“On the other hand, teachers with limited
knowledge have been found to portray the
subject as a collection of static facts; to
provide impoverished or inappropriate
examples, analogies, and/or
representations; and to emphasize
seatwork assignments and/or routinized
student input as opposed to meaningful
(Stein et al, 1990, p. 641)
6 characteristics of professional teacher
1. Service to others (e.g. “calling”)
2. Scholarly understanding
3. Knowledge of skilled practice
4. Use of good judgment
5. Balance between theory and practice
6. Evaluation precipitates reflection
(Shulman, 1998)
Lee Shulman
Stanford University
8th President of Carnegie Foundation
Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education
& Psychology Emeritus
AERA Distinguished Award-Contributions to
Educational Research
Research Interests:
• Quality of Teaching & Teacher Education
Principle #4: PCK
(PCK - “pedagogical content knowledge”)
• Experts have a strong grasp of their
subject matter, but there is no
guarantee that they possess the ability
or expertise to teach others!
Activity: PCK Items
Principle #4: PCK
Ms. Harris was working with her class on divisibility rules. She told her class
that a number is divisible by 4 if and only if the last two digits of the number
are divisible by 4. One of her students asked her why the rule for 4 worked.
She asked the other students if they could come up with a reason, and several
possible reasons were proposed. Which of the following statements comes
closest to explaining the reason for the divisibility rule for 4? (Mark ONE
Four is an even number, and odd numbers are not divisible by even numbers.
The number 100 is divisible by 4 (and also 1000, 10,000, etc.).
Every other even number is divisible by 4, for example, 24 and 28 but not 26.
It only works when the sum of the last two digits is an even number.
(SII/LMT Project, Deborah Ball)
Principle #4: PCK
Explain the concept of dilations. Provide a
specific example that demonstrates how you
would use geometric software to improve
student understanding of the concept, and
explain how your example would enhance
student learning.
(Retired prompt, Mathematics/Adolescence and Young
Adulthood Certificate Area, National Board for Professional
Teaching Standards)
Principle #4: PCK
Ms. Hernandez’s class was looking at the
following table one day. She asked her
students to think of a way that would help
them find x for any given n, without having
to continue the table.
One student wrote, “The answer is x + 2.”
Mrs. Hernandez was about to mark this
student’s work as wrong when Mrs.
Johnson, her student teacher, said she had
a guess about what the student might have
been thinking. In your opinion, what might
this student have been thinking?
(SII/LMT Project, Deborah Ball)
Principle #5: Fluent Retrieval
• Experts are able to flexibly retrieve
important aspects of their knowledge
with little attentional effort
• Knowledge retrieval may be automatic
Principle #5: Fluent Retrieval
A board was sawed in two pieces. One piece
was 2/3 as long as the whole board and was
exceeded in length by the second piece by
four feet. How long was the board before
it was cut?
There are 26 sheep and 10 goats on a ship.
How old is the captain?
Principle #6: Adaptive Expertise
• Experts have varying levels of flexibility in
their approach to new situations
• Experts use metacognition to monitor their
memory status and regulate their
Principle #6: Adaptive Expertise
“Metacognitively sophisticated children or
adults are like busy executives, analyzing
new problems, judging how far they are
from the goal, allocating attention,
selecting a strategy, attempting a solution,
monitoring the success or failure of
current performance, and deciding whether
to change to a different strategy.”
(Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 1993, p. 259)
Can novices become experts?
• Some novices have too many improvements
to make
• Some do not know how to make
• Some do not care enough to make
• Some are plagued by a mixture of the
(Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993)
Reflection on Key Principles
Look back at the group tasks you
completed in today’s lesson.
Which key principle(s) of experts/novices
was illustrated with the task?
Memory Task
Function Sort
Problem Types
PCK Items
Disclaimers- Key Principles
• All 6 of the key principles regarding
experts are not discrete, but
• Highly dependent on learner’s prior
Implications for Instruction
Instruction that enables students to see
models of how experts organize and solve
problems may be helpful.
• Tasks should be authentic
• Tasks should mirror learner’s needs and
• Learning should initiate self-assessment
Implications for Assessment
“Many designs for curriculum, instruction and
assessment practices fail to emphasize the
importance of conditionalized knowledge.”
“Many assessments measure only propositional
(factual) knowledge and never ask whether
students know when, where, and why to use
that knowledge.”
(Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000, p. 49)
Bransford, J.D., Brown, L. & Cocking, R.R. (Eds). (2000). How people
learn: Brain, mind experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National
Academy Press.
Ericsson, K., Krampe, R., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993, July). The role of
deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance.
Psychological Review, 100(3), 363-406.
Flavell, J.H., Miller, P.H., & Miller, S.A. (1993). Cognitive Development.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
van Gog, T., Ericsson, K., Rikers, R., & Paas, F. (2005). Instructional
Design for Advanced Learners: Establishing Connections Between the
Theoretical Frameworks of Cognitive Load and Deliberate Practice.
Educational Technology Research & Development, 53(3), 73-81.
Hinsley, D. A., Hayes, J.R., & Simon, H.A. (1977). From words to
equations: Meaning and representation in algebra word problems. In
Cognitive Processes in Comprehension. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.
Schneider, W., & Bjorklund, D. (1992, April). Expertise, aptitude,
and strategic remembering. Child Development, 63(2), 461.
Schneider, W., Körkel, J., & Weinert, F. (1989, September).
Domain-specific knowledge and memory performance: A comparison
of high- and low-aptitude children. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 81(3), 306-312.
Schneider, W., Knopf, M., & Stefanek, J. (2002, December). The
development of verbal memory in childhood and adolescence:
Findings from the Munich Longitudinal Study. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 94(4), 751-761.
Shulman, L. (1998, May). Theory, practice, and the education of
professionals. Elementary School Journal, 98(5), 513-523.
Stein, M.K., Baxter J.A & Leinhardt, G. (1990, Winter) Subject
matter knowledge and elementary instruction: A case from
functions and graphing. American Educational Researcher 27(4):

Experts & Novices: Implications for Learning, Teaching and

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