Generalisable aspects of expertise

In introduction to Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, Anders Ericsson reviews several conceptualisations of generalisable aspects of expertise.

He also elaborates some definitions:

Expertise comprises a set of charactersitics/skills/knowledge that distinguish experts from novices and less experienced peers.

Expert performance denotes types of superior reproducible performance of representative tasks of a domain.

In some domains there are no objective measures of these two notions; subjective measures are then used.  These subjective criteria include:

  • recogntion by peers as a reliable source of knowledge/skill
  • authority and status accorded by public or peers
  • prolonged/intense  experience through practice and education

The subjective criteria are often problematic, for example experience, which could mean that difference from novices are a function of repetition rather than superior skill.

Ericsson outlines key issues in expertise development that are currently not well understood and require further research:

  • How experts organise their knowledge and performance?
  • How can efficiency of learning be improved to reach higher levels of expert performance?
  • Why indviduals improve their performance at different rates and why different people reach different levels of final achievement?
  • What are the mediating mechanisms of expertise development?

Source: Ericsson, A. (2006). An introduction to Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance: It’s developemnt, organisation and content.  In Ericsson, K.A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P., & Hoffman, R. (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (pp.3-19). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.


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