Laboratory Methods for Assessing Experts’ and Novices’ Knowledge


Expertise, by definition, refers to the manifestation of skills and understanding resulting from the accumulation of a large body of knowledge. This implies that in order to understand how experts perform and why they are more capable than non-experts, we must understand the representation of their knowledge, that is, how their knowledge is organized or structured, and how their representations might differ from those of novices. For example, if a child who is fascinated with dinosaurs and has learned a lot about them correctly infers attributes about some dinosaurs that was new to them by reasoning analogically to some known dinosaurs (e.g., the shape of teeth for carnivores versus vegetarians), we would not conclude that the “expert” child has a more powerful analogical reasoning strategy. Instead, we would conclude that such a global or domain-general reasoning strategy is available to all children, but that novice children might reason analogically to some other familiar domain, such as animals (rather than dinosaurs), as our data have shown (Chi, Hutchinson, & Robin, 1989). Thus, the analogies of domain-novice are less powerful not necessarily because they lack adequate analogical reasoning strategies, although they may, but because they lack the appropriate domain knowledge from which analogies can be drawn. Thus, in this framework, a critical locus of proficiency lies in the representation of their domain knowledge. This chapter reviews several methods that have been used to study experts in the laboratory, with the goal of understanding how each method reveals the structure of experts’ knowledge, in contrast to that of novices. The theoretical assumption is that the structure or representation of experts’ knowledge is a primary determiner of how experts learn, reason, remember, and solve problems. This chapter has three sections. It starts by briefly reviewing the historical background to studies of the experts’ representations. The second section describes four general types of methods that have been commonly used to study expert knowledge. Finally, I

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@inproceedings{Chi2006LaboratoryMF, title={Laboratory Methods for Assessing Experts’ and Novices’ Knowledge}, author={Michelene T. H. Chi}, year={2006} }