An expert is an individual who combines knowledge, experience and problem solving (Herling & Provo, 2000) in the process of conducting his or her craft. To have expertise is to reach the optimum level at which a person is able or expected to perform within a specialism (Swanson, 1994, p. 94). The expertise literature is broad and includes the definitions of expertise and the expert. The research often examines three major areas of study, the decision making ability, cognitive psychology and the performance of an individual dependant on the problem and constraints of the task (Shanteau, 1992). Glaser and Chi (1988) have described the characteristics that make an expert; (1) experts excel in their own domains, (2) experts perceive large patterns in their domains, (3) experts are fast at using their skills and solving problems within their domains, (4) experts have superior short and long term memories, (5) experts see and perceive problems at a deeper level than a novice, (6) experts spend a long timer analysing problems qualitatively, and (7) experts have strong self-monitoring skills. Within social psychology, Mieg’s (2001) typology of experts identifies differences between domain-specific knowledge and formal knowledge. Mieg (2001) identifies 4 types of domain specific knowledge: local, exclusive, scientific, and practical, and notes that these categories are not exclusive to one another. Each expert, regardless of the domain, serves as an interpreter of specialist knowledge to non-experts. Benner and Tanner (1987) draw upon the key aspects of intuitive judgement devised from Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1986) whereby pattern recognition, similarity recognition, common sense understanding, skilled know-how, sense of salience and deliberative rationality to suggest the skills experts commonly display. The Benner and Tanner (1987) research however can be criticised for not offering full definition of the expert practitioner (English 1993).
Throughout history philosophers have speculated about the origin of highly desirable skills. Ericsson and Charness (1994) express that there has been a bias toward the attribution of higher skills to gifts rather than experience. In essence early theory about genius was that it is born and not made. The earlier view that talent or giftedness is necessary to attain the highest levels of performance in an activity is widely held by most people. Gardner (1983) proposed seven intelligences: linguistic, musical, spatial, logical, kinaesthetic and interpersonal intelligence. Each of which are independent in their own right. In spite of low intellect music savants display a high degree of musical prowess as children (Gardner 1973). More recently however writings have developed the suggestion that children can be highly educated if they are given the correct training (Suzuki 1981). Ericsson and Charness (1994) state that expert performance is acquired skill versus the reflection of innate talents can influence how expert performers are studied. In most domains be it chess, sport, work, individuals have a conception of the activities that experts should excel. These activities rarely have defined start and end points. It can be challenging therefore to identify well-defined tasks that occur frequently in order to capture the essence of expertise (Ericsson & Charness, 1994).
Mieg (2001) suggests that experts can be developed either by knowledge or experience. Academics, scientists, historians develop their levels of expertise through acquiring knowledge through long study. These individuals often lack experience in their field as they cannot experience the scenarios they are studyong. Ericsson and his colleagues have suggested that deliberate practise is what develops experts. Deliberate practise suggests that experts are motivated by the improvement of their performance and this motivation develops expertise (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993). In contrast Prerau, Adler and Gunders (1992) state that experience, and familiarity with their domain develops expertise. The knowledge gained by an expert developed through experience is based upon extensive application of knowledge. This suggests that the only criterion for expert performance is experience, and expertise can be defined along a continuum from birth through adulthood (Cooke 1992).
Building a high performance environment.
January 14, 2015
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Sport Psychologists: An interesting bunch but what do we actually do.