Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week 3 Readings

The following are the summaries for Week 3 reading selections:

Perception in Chess by William G. Chase and Herbert A. Simon

  • This reading talked about the different ways both expert and novice chess players are able to perceive the game of chess.
  • Using three different types of chess players (one master, a class A, and a beginner), Chase and Simon looked at several different variables as to how these three players compared in different exercises involving the game of chess.
  • Chase and Simon looked at the following exercises: perception task, memory task, accuracy of reconstruction, and time intervals.
  • Also, Chase and Simon also looked at “chunk size” (how much information was given for each task) and memory span (how much of the given information could each player recall).
  • The overall conclusion that was reached was that expert players were able to utilize a “chunk size” better by placing more information into the space and recall it in a quicker and more efficient fashion.

Categorization and Representation of Physics Problems by Michelene T.H. Chi, Paul J. Feltovich, and Robert Glaser

  • This reading looked at the way different physics problems were grouped, perceived, and interpreted by both experts and novices in the field of physics.
  • There were two studies performed, problem sorting and sorting problems with surface similarity.
  • In the problem sorting study, experts took longer to sort problems than novices. The researchers believed this was due to the fact that the experts sorted the problems based on laws of physics and novices sorted based on surface features.
  • In the sorting problems with surface similarity, the researchers wanted to test what they found in the first study. Experts grouped the new set of problems based on a deeper structure rather than novice, who sorted the problems based on surface structures. This confirmed the first study for the researchers.

These two readings are instrumental in understanding how individuals become experts in a respective field and the thought mechanism that qualifies them as so. As instructors who have so many constraints in the classroom, its important to understand exactly how we give the correct “chunks” of information to our students in order to ensure that they have the necessary to become (or learn to become) experts in an area of academia they so chose.

Questions that arose for me were:

1.     Was there any preliminary research that was performed on the individuals that took part in the studies? Is there anything known about how much knowledge each one has about either chess or physics?  
2.     Was there a physical mechanism that was evident during the studies from the expert and novices subjects?


  1. I think that at least for the Chase paper, the participants used had obtained a status "grand master" which requires a certain level of competitive play. I am not an expert on chess but I believe that is how the title is reached. As far as the novice, I am not sure. Is it someone that knows nothing about chess or has played a few games? I would be considered a novice, however, I would probably do better than other novices. Very interesting question.

  2. What do you mean physical mechanism? Like how connections are formed between neurons?