Adaptive v. Routine Experts

By May 27, 2017 November 22nd, 2017 No Comments

Here is a great article from Vanderbilt on what expertise is and how to develop it.

“There is a difference between adaptive experts, whose metacognitive skills allow the transfer of knowledge from one setting to another, and routine experts, whose expertise allows them to function well in standard settings but doesn’t serve them well when conditions are different.” [emphasis added]

Our goal at EA is to create adaptive experts – kids who can deconstruct, analyze, and adapt what they know.  We call that true understanding, as opposed to an ability to regurgitate facts.

The article then goes on to discuss the challenges of getting from novice to expert.  These points are excellent:

  • The development and retention of new knowledge depends in large part on the relationship between what one is learning and what one already knows. Because novices in a field typically don’t know much of the content in that field, they have little to which they can relate the things they’re attempting to learn. So they retain less.
  • Since novices typically don’t grasp the fundamental principles in a field, they don’t see the patterns grounded in those principles. They tend therefore to adopt anidiosyncratic organizational scheme for what they are learning. This organizational scheme might function well enough in a particular context (e.g., in the particular unit they’re covering in a part of a class) but it doesn’t serve them well in other areas of the field. It doesn’t transfer well.
  • The expert’s fluency can conceal the very principles and strategies that the novice must learn in order to become more expert. These principles and strategies are often invisible even to the expert precisely because they are second nature. And they’re invisible to the novice observing the expert because they’re implicit in the expert’s work.

At EA we focus on building ladders with low, closely spaced rungs.  These ladders lead the student to a clear understanding of fundamental principals which can be applied not only to different situations within the entrepreneurial arts, but to other fields as well.  We start where they are (their experiences and abilities) and take them bit by bit toward expertise.