Edev_502 response wk2_2

Thanks for your insightful comments and thought-provoking question. This is what I truly love about this course; the development of one student’s ideas by another. I hadn’t come across a number of concepts you have brought to the table. I especially like the idea of interthinking. The Mercer book will be high up on my ‘to read’ list.

I agree with your point about MARCs not aiding novice-expert communication if the communication models are not agreed upon. Various scenarios impeding communication can be envisaged: Your experience with string theory is one where the expert could have explained his knowledge, but in doing so two or three years of continual monologue is needed; and experts may suffer from the curse of knowledge, where informed people are “cursed by the knowledge they possess and inaccurately judge what uninformed participants know” (Birch & Bernstein, 2007, p. 100, grammatical tense altered). In other words, I know something and I can’t imagine you not knowing it. (Birch & Bloom, 2007; Camerer, Loewenstein, & Weber, 1989). My original point was unclear. I tried to make a case for researchers to clarify how they speak with experts. I didn’t mean to bring up the novice-expert situation. I’m glad that you did.

Your question about teaching experts to talk novice (my italics: great new language!) is a very complex one. Beyond what we’ve jointly covered above, one avenue that may give a lot of value is looking at science public outreach programmes (OP). I don’t know of any discourse analysis studies of typical OP, but I suspect that established OP (I’m thinking of NASA’s and other science ones) would provide a good road map of simplified yet accurate concept building as well as concrete examples of how that simplification is achieved.

The Fernández et al. (Fernández, Wergerif, Mercer, & Rojas-Drummond, 2002) article you reference speaks well to the second part of your question (if I’ve understood it properly). Do you know of any other studies that have taken the idea of discourse training in older students? I know that my own students benefit from direct instruction in discourse as many Japanese students have had very little experience in constructivist learning situations. I provide this to them on an informal basis.


Birch, S. A. J., & Bernstein, D. M. (2007). What Can Children Tell Us About Hindsight Bias: A Fundamental Constraint on Perspective–Taking? Social Cognition, 25(1), 98–113. http://doi.org/10.1521/soco.2007.25.1.98

Birch, S. A. J., & Bloom, P. (2007). The curse of knowledge in reasoning about false beliefs: Research report. Psychological Science, 18(5), 382–386. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01909.x

Camerer, C., Loewenstein, G., & Weber, M. (1989). The curse of knowledge in economic settings: An experimental analysis, 1232–1254.

Fernandez, M., Wergerif, R., Mercer, N., & Rojas-Drummond, S. (2002). Re-conceptualising “scaffolding” and the Zone of Proximal Development in the context of symmetrical collaborative learning. Journal of Classroom Interaction, 50(1), 54–72.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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