Edev_502 response wk2_8

I think that all three of your questions are very challenging and interesting, but I’d like to offer some thoughts about the first one.

Implications for the university of Atherton’s Model of Expertise

Atherton’s 4-stage model of expertise offers many suggestions for the university. As a brainstorming activity, I’ll list a number of ideas that various stakeholders in the university environment may utilise. There are many possible avenues for discussion, so for brevity’s sake, I’ll limit by offering to how a course, or syllabus, may be informed by the model.

  1. Competence

Atherton notes that “there will be some skills in which experts are ‘merely competent’” (Atherton, 2013), making the point that full expert levels are not required in all aspects in a single profession. The expectation of high quality in everything may detract from the production of well-rounded graduates if focus is placed on less important knowledge and skill sets. Course credits can be weighted much in the same way as test items with more emphasis put on the core courses in a discipline.

An extension of credit weighting is to give more credit to non-majors in a course than to major students. This may seem counter-intuitive, but let’s say a doctor (to use Atherton’s example) doesn’t need to be an expert at taking blood, their course credit should be more for a C than a nurse’s for a B. The recognition of the value of competence as a final product can free up study resources for the more core skills.

Textbook selection is also relevant here. Within any discipline, there are a range of available books. Rather than present a ‘competence final level’ class with an introductory textbook, which pre-supposes that students will advance to higher level book and will select content accordingly, give students a more comprehensive overview textbook and assess on more general competence.

Classes can be streamed, not according to ability but according to final need for the skill. In terms of epistemological development, the tuition at this stage can assume more fact-driven learning with students at the absolute knowing level (Moon, 2005).

These ideas are applicable to all of the levels. In the next section, I’ll limit the brainstorming to the particular level only.

  1. Contextualisation

Instructors can bypass the requirement for expert-like thinking at the competence level and start instilling this mindset at this stage. If a multi-levelled course was set-up, the textbook at the competence level would be fact driven (or basic skill copy-me level driven): this level cries out for case studies as a method for developing the incipient mindset of the expert.

Epistemological developmentally, the contextualisation stage can present cases in which definite choices can be made. In other words, there is still an element of correct or incorrect choice in the cases as students develop through the transitional and independent knowing levels (Moon, 2005).

Students on this course may either be those who wish to finish at this level or those who aim for expertise. For the former, higher credits and vice versa for the latter.

  1. Contingency

Only students who intend to work as expert professionals need take this course. Entry into the course comprises an assessment of prior learning and practical skill. At this level, the university may wish to enter the community and have students do internships or other supervised on-the-job work.

Class work may comprise crisis management through specifically graded case work and further skill and knowledge training. Epistemological developmental expectations fall towards the autonomous contextual knowing (Moon, 2005). This stage would end the university training. It’s difficult to see a whole cohort achieving expert status in short time available. One or two individual students may reach that level, but the creation of a course-wide syllabus for all students is impractical.

Atherton, J. S. (2013). Doceo; Competence, Proficiency and beyond. Retrieved July 21, 2015, from http://www.doceo.co.uk/background/expertise.htm

Moon, J. (2005). We seek it here … a new perspective on the elusive activity of critical thinking: a theoretical and practical approach. Bristol.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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