Posted by: Dave Moursund
Tagged in: Multiple Intelligences
Each of us has multiple areas of expertise, but few of us are really high level experts in our various areas of expertise.
For example, I have a useful level of expertise in keyboarding, searching the Web, and medicating the household cats that my wife and I care for. However, in each of these areas I am very far from being an expert.
On the other hand, I know a great deal about the field of computers in education, and perhaps I might once have ranked as a “word class expert” in this field.
For the purpose of this IAE Blog entry, think in terms of four types of expertise:
- A level of expertise that meets your current personal needs in a particular area and provides a foundation for achieving a level of expertise that will meet your future needs and wants. A person may have many such pockets of expertise. Over time, new ones can be developed and one’s level of expertise in some current areas may decline through disuse.
- A level of expertise that meets the levels being specified by other people such as parents, relatives, siblings, friends, and other people you routinely interact with. For example, parents want their children to have some expertise in being respectful and responsible children who “pick up” after themselves and do their assigned chores.
- A level of expertise established by various systems and institutions such as one’s culture and community, schools, religious institution, our legal, moral, and ethical systems, and so on. Our schools want students to gain a level of expertise that meets "contemporary standards" in a variety of areas—somewhat independently of student levels of intelligence and interest in these various areas.
- A level of expertise needed to be successful in a variety of adult tasks such as being a spouse, parenting, employment, being a responsible adult citizen, and so on. An important aspect of "growing up” is gaining wisdom and foresight that leads to becoming a responsible and self-sufficient adult.
I like to think in terms of an informal and formal educational system that helps people develop pockets of expertise that meet their own personal needs. Intrinsic motivation and self-assessment are driving forces in these areas. I can keyboard well enough to meet my personal needs as a writer, I can read well enough to meet my personal needs as a reader, and I can write well enough to meet my personal and professional needs as a writer. In these and many other areas I maintain my level of expertise through routine use of the expertise. I know that I could improve my expertise in these areas if I set my mind to it—but I have other things that I want to do with my time and energy.
I have always had a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that led me to be a successful student and to be successful in my chosen career areas. Nature, nurture, drive and stick-to-it-ness, being a lifelong learner, etc., have all contributed.
You can use the ideas discussed above both for personal self-assessment and in working with students. Consider explicitly teaching these ideas to students you work with, and providing them with help as they identify and analyze some of their own pockets of expertise. Consider encouraging them to routinely reflect on how well they are doing in developing pockets of expertise that meet their personal needs and the needs of others. Stress the self-assessment they can do for themselves. In your teaching and parenting, stress formative assessment designed to provide feedback to yourself and your children/students. Formative assessment is not for grading—it is to help improve the learning and teaching processes.
In this activity, stress transfer of learning. An understanding of a pocket of expertise provides an basis for understanding what it means to have expertise, how to assess one’s levels of expertise in various areas, and how to develop other pockets of expertise.
Spend a bit of time reflecting on what you have just read. How does the information fit in with your current knowledge, beliefs, and activities? How can you make use of the information to help improve our informal and formal educational systems? Who do you know that might benefit from reading this IAE Blog entry?
If the IAE Blog entries are useful to you, then consider signing up for a Free Subscription. (See the menu on the left side of the page.) You will automatically receive email about new postings to the IAE Blog. Typically, there are about three new postings per week.
Two Free Books of Possible Interest
Moursund, D.G. (2009). Becoming more responsible for your education. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Access at http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/39-becoming-more-responsbile-for-your-education.html.
This 96-page book has an 8th grade reading level and is written specifically for young teenagers. Its goal is to help students learn to take more responsibility for their own education. By age 13, many students are beginning to have the mental maturity to take a major role in their own education. Preservice teachers, inservice teachers, and parents will also find the book useful. For example, parents may want to read the book along with their young teen-age children, and use the reading to facilitate “serious” educational conversations with their children.
Moursund, David (2007). Computers in education for talented and gifted students: A book for elementary and middle school teachers. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Access at http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/13-computers-in-education-for-talented-and-gifted-students.html.
After downloading this free book, do a search for expertise. You will find several sections that discuss this topic.
This book explores various roles of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in talented and gifted (TAG) education. The three goals of this book are:
• To help improve the educational opportunities and education of TAG students.
• To increase the general knowledge of teachers about the field of computers in education.
• To explore some possible changes designed to improve our educational system. Many of the ideas in this book are applicable to all students, not just TAG students.
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you.
Assessing Student Achievement in Difficult to Assess Curricular Areas: Social Knowledge and Skills. IAE Newsletter - Issue 57, January, 2011.
Gaining expertise in reading, writing, arithmetic, and in other areas. IAE Newsletter - Issue 11, February, 2009.