One of the richest and most enduring contributions
of cognitive science to education is its collection
of novice/expert studies. Cognitive scientists have
spent decades researching to understand the nature of
expertise, and the processes by which novices at a domain
become experts. These studies have run the gamut of
domains: from well-defined bodies of knowledge like
chess, mathematics, physics, law, and circuit analysis,
to more ill-defined domains like designing, teaching,
Experts organize knowledge of their fields differently
than novices -- this is clear to all novice/expert studies.
Some of the hallmarks of expert knowledge organization
and performance include:
- Experts know lots of facts
that are organized for efficient use.
- Experts recognize patterns
in situations, which requires less time and
- Experts have extensive connections
between areas of knowledge -- facts are not
isolated or inert.
- Experts do things so automatically,
they believe what they know and do is easy.
- Experts notice underlying
structures of situations more, while novices
tend to notice surface features.
- Experts' knowledge is more
flexible and adaptable (called understanding)
than novices' knowledge
For a great summary of differences between experts and
novices, see Chapter 2 "How Experts Differ From Novices"