A Guide To Expertise

Brain with computer circuits
How is the expert's brain wired?
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What is expertise?

How can we conceptualize and understand expertise as a phenomenon of memory and learning?

How can one become an expert?

This web project attempts to answer the above questions.

We all have different notions of what it means to be an expert at something. Whether it is being able to recite all the countries in the world, or knowing four different languages, the numerous parts of the body, or distinguishing between four different red wines, "experts" are all around us. So it is only natural that cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, and other brain/mind specialists try and tease apart the mechanisms of expertise. While getting everyone to agree on one notion of expertise is difficult, we attempt to summarize the vast field that is expertise in a way that might help any college student understand just what is expertise and what it means to be "an expert."

Experts differ from novices in their ability to process information related to a particular field or task. They exhibit a greater and deeper understanding of subject matter. They recognize patterns of meaningful information. They exhibit conditionalized knowledge that is dependent on content and context. They are also able to tackle problems in their areas of expertise with less effort than would be required of novices. (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000)

These characteristics can be seen in a variety of applications, and studies of these settings have yielded various and distinct frameworks for the concept. We will explore these theories in varying levels of detail and also discuss what the applications of expertise can teach us about this phenomenon.

Finally, we will examine several techniques for the development of expertise and discuss their advantages and disadvantages.


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