Week 3 Memo:
This week the two studies we were assigned to read focused on expert versus novice thinking. In the Chase paper, the authors repeated work previously done with chess players. They used several levels of chess players, ranging from grand master to beginner and found that the grand masters were better able to reproduce chess piece position in every case, except where the pieces were placed randomly. This was identified as chunking. The experts were better because of their familiarity with placement. The more familiar you are with something the more likely you are to be able to reproduce it. At first, I thought this study seemed silly. Why do we care? But after reading it, I started to understand that they weren’t really interested in chess. Understanding how our brains work and how we learn, as well as the differences between immature vs mature brains, is incredibly relevant for a teacher to understand. How new information is presented to a student can have a large impact on how well the information is retained and understood. Also, I think this paper touches on the importance of repetition. Experts are experts because of practice and familiarity. Implementing those techniques in the classroom is essential for retention.
The Chi paper takes a different approach and looks at experts and novices ability to solve physics problems. Basically they say that experts analyze a problem and take cues from the problem to aid them in solving it. This is very similar to the Chase paper. The experts has some advantage brought about by familiarity with the subject. The schema, or principle oriented knowledge structure, that the expert employs allows for identification and classification of the type of problem. The novice would not have this knowledge or know how to use it and are, therefore, less capable. Overall, I think it was easier for me to grasp the chess comparison, however, by using physics problems Chi et al. really focus on how students learn. How we, as educators or scientists, present data is incredibly important for learning. If you present something in a terrible way, the students are not going to learn it and will probably not retain anything that is taught. Being an effective teacher means understanding how students learn and I think, even though we don’t understand everything, we have figured out how to study learning in very effective ways.