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Why Do They Not See What I See?: The Difference Between Knowing How and Knowing That
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Learning, Aesthetics, Natural science. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences. (TekNaD/FontD)
2013 (English)In: Transfer, transitions and transformations of learning / [ed] Middleton, Howard & Baartman, L.K.J., Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2013, 1, 149-168 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is a cold but sunny September day in a Forest in the south of Sweden. A university teacher, Eric, is taking his biology students out on an excursion. During the morning they have taken samples of soil, identified plants, trees and many other things. At this specific moment the group has arrived at a peat bog. They are going to study the vegetation in this special environment and will soon be drilling deep down into the bog to take samples of partially carbonized mosses. They have been asked to put on their rubber boots and now Eric encourages them to walk out on the quagmire, to make them „feel the grounds tottering beneath their feet‟. He doesn‟t hesitate but walks causally, knowing exactly where to put his feet without getting wet. Hence he is leaving the anxious, struggling, moaning students far behind. Slowly moving themselves out on the peat bog the students very often fail to establish a „safe‟ path and some of them begin to sink, getting their boots full of water. Afterwards, at the debriefing, Eric tries to teach them how to walk on a pet bog “And if you listen, you can feel … hear water oozing between … these floes of moss, or bog, or moss, or peat bog. And one could tell from the vegetation where you could walk or not.” Although Eric provides them with several clues about how to walk on the peat bog keeping their feet‟s dry, it is obvious that those rules are of no direct use for the students. This episode was one of many found in a research study on expertise in teaching (Stolpe & Björklund, 2012a). The authors followed two experienced biology teachers when they took their students out on excursions in the nature. Data was collected using video and audio recordings and by taking field notes during the excursions. Afterwards the teachers were interviewed in a stimulated recall setting and were asked to comment on specific situations during the day. In this episode Eric showed typical expert skills, observing, assessing and acting in a complex environment almost automatically and he was asked: How do you know where you could walk or not? He answered: “The vegetation tells you where to put your feet. Sedges indicate that it‟s dryer. And then one recognizes what kind of moisture there is”. This illustrates an analytical, conscious answer upon which Eric attempted to explain his walking on the bog. However, this type of instruction is more or less useless as guidelines for students, since it would be hard to know what was meant by, for example, „the vegetation tells you where to put your feet‟. Asked to be more specific, Eric then continued: “It is trial and error. You may probe and you will see. From experience you know where you cannot go because you will sink. It‟s obvious”. Eric has walked on peat bogs many times before and when he relived an earlier experienced situation, it may have helped him make the correct decisions. He was not able to transfer his own knowledge to the students, partly because his skills were tacit, hidden from himself, partly because they couldn‟t be expressed verbally. This is a general dilemma facing teachers and supervisors everywhere, to transfer their own skills and knowledge to the student or apprentice. Stolpe and Björklund (2012a) used a new psychological model to analyse and explain the behaviour of the teacher and were able to identify two different types of knowledge. There were implicit and explicit memories that explained the expert skills of the teacher, why the skills were tacit and if they could be transferred to the students. This chapter present the model and discusses its usefulness for analysing not only the knowledge of experts, but also other phenomena in the field of transfer research. The story of Eric was an example of unsuccessful transfer from an expert to his students, illustrating the dilemmas in teaching tacit knowledge or „knowing how‟. It articulates a difference of two different memory systems and two different kind of learning. This first paragraph will describe the Dual system model, the theories behind it, and some illustrative examples on how it could be used to analyse and understand transfer and its merits and drawbacks. It will be followed by an annotated bibliography of transfer research studies of relevance, using the dual system model as an analytical tool. Summing up, conclusions and implications given for training and educational design are then provided.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2013, 1. 149-168 p.
, International technology education studies, 11
Keyword [en]
Tacit knowledge, expertise, transfer, dual system, implicit memory
Keyword [sv]
Pedagogik -- teori, filosofi
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102271ISBN: 9789462094352OAI: diva2:675839

Review of research on transfer and arguments using a neurocognitive model for the problems with transfer.

Available from: 2013-12-04 Created: 2013-12-04 Last updated: 2015-11-30Bibliographically approved

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Learning, Aesthetics, Natural scienceThe Institute of TechnologyFaculty of Educational Sciences

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