Human expertise is a critical resource and will become increasingly so as society's tools and techniques for acquisition, creation, distribution, control, and management of information become more knowledge intensive. One claim, echoed by developers of expert systems, is that human expertise is <i>fragile</i> -- changes in the problem or problem context may result in dramatic performance degradations (Brown &amp; Campione, 1984; Reed, Ernst &amp; Banerji, 1974). Consequently, systems constructed from the knowledge of experts inherit this flaw and its ramifications. Although the concept of fragility has an intuitive appeal, few studies have been conducted to explicate the nature of this phenomena, that is, few studies have attempted to discover where and how such fragility is manifest. With this study we are beginning to explicate the nature of expert fragility. The plan of the reported study is to compare how experts and novices perform on a task that has been modified to degrade the performance of the expert to that of the novice, but still permits the behavior of the expert and novice to be investigated in detail.
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