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Knowledge Structures and the Nature of Expertise in Classical Genetics

Mike U. Smith
Cognition and Instruction
Vol. 7, No. 4 (1990), pp. 287-302
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3233466
Page Count: 16
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Knowledge Structures and the Nature of Expertise in Classical Genetics
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Abstract

College genetics faculty, students, and genetic counselors were asked to organize a group of classical genetics problems based on perceived similarities in problem solution and then to describe their organizational schemes. Like the experts in previous studies, only faculty subjects consistently organized problems around disciplinary principles. Unlike the faculty, the expert counselors resembled the students, placing greater emphasis on the problem knowns and unknowns. The counselors also emphasized solution techniques to be used. Only students emphasized the verbatim wording of the problem statement. Based on these findings, there can be more than one kind of expertise within a discipline, each with differing functional organizations of disciplinary knowledge. The hypothesis is presented that the scheme by which an expert organizes his or her knowledge of a discipline is structured to facilitate the manner in which that knowledge is typically applied by that individual.

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