, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 313-337
Date: 14 Mar 2012

Educational Implications of Expertise Reversal Effects in Learning and Performance of Complex Cognitive and Sensorimotor Skills

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Abstract

There have been several rather counterintuitive phenomena observed in different fields of research that compared the performance of experts and novices. For example, studies of medical expertise demonstrated that less experienced medical students may in some situations outperform seasoned medical practitioners on recall of specific cases. Studies of cognitive load aspects of complex skill acquisition in technical and academic domains demonstrated that more experienced technical trainees or students may learn less than expected from instructions that are very effective for novices. Finally, research in the execution of movements in sports showed that, while novice players performed well under skill-focused and accuracy conditions, such conditions inhibited performance of experts who benefitted from speed conditions. Apparently, in each of those phenomena, there is a mechanism that disrupted successful expert performance while, at the same time, enhanced performance of less experienced individuals. This paper presents a review of the expertise reversal effects that have been found in the different fields and identifies their specific underlying mechanisms and common origins. Knowledge of theoretical models and empirical findings in one of those fields could enrich research ideas and approaches in others. The implications of these ideas for research aimed at improving learning and instruction are discussed.