Research on Transition From Novice to Expert

Adapted by Barry Sweeny from work of David Berliner


INDEX:


The Researcher

David Berliner of Arizona State University has done considerable work on exploring the crucial process of learning to be a professional in a new career. That work is summarized here. In it David describes the differences between the novice and the expert employee. I bet everyone who reads this will be transported back to your own first year experiences of employment by David’s descriptions. How true and how fascinating!

The issue, however, is that we need more than a description of this phenomena. We need to know how to facilitate this transition for all employees, for we need all employees functioning at the top level of performance! That process is the role of the mentor and the purpose for the mentoring relationship and process, all of which are addressed elsewhere on this web site.


The Research on the Transition from Novice to Expert

This chart summarizes the Berliner research findings, and does so in a form that allows you to use it as an assessment. more is available on that application in different settings below the figure.

NOVICE RATING OF GROWTH EXPERT
Task centered 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 People centered
Knowledge base is research & theory 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 The knowledge base is of research, theory & experience linked
Knowledge is in unrelated concepts 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Knowledge is organized in related “chunks”
Trial & error learning are inefficient use of time & energy 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Experience offers efficient routines & work samples
Most problems are new so problem solving & planning take lots of time 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Problem solving & planning time is efficient & mostly spent refining past, tested ideas
Likely to spend most of the time on survival issues & tasks 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Likely to be most focused on results of own actions & decisions
Less likely to analyze own choices and thinking to improve “next time” 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Monitors own decisions to better understand self & improve outcomes
Likely to internalize a “failure” & lose self confidence 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Likely to learn from “failure” & see it as learning, not a mistake
Likely to receive any suggestions as criticism 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Takes criticism & accepts others valid points
May be unaware of many of own needs 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 Aware of many of own needs

If you are a mentor:

  • Where is your protege on each of these issues?
  • Does your protege have enough experience and perspective to know where they are in these transitions?
  • What can you do as a mentor to promote your protege’s growth in these key areas?

If you are a protege:

  • Where are you in each of these critical transitions?
  • What can you do to gain program and mentor support to help accelerate your transition?
  • What can you do for yourself to accelerate your own growth for any of these issues?

If you are a Mentor Program Coordinator:

  • Do you have data about where each of the PROTEGES in your program are on each of these issues?
  • How are you using each program element to assist this important transition for each protege”
  • Do your proteges know where they are in these transitions?
  • How can the program help proteges use this information to accelerate their
    own growth?
  • Do you have data about where MENTORS in your program are in their level
    of experts as mentors for each of these issues?
  • Do your mentors know where they are in these transitions?
  • How can the program help mentors use this information to accelerate their own growth?
  • What can you do as a Mentor of Mentors to promote the growth of mentors in your program in these key areas?
  • Where are YOU in each of these critical transitions as a developing program leader?
  • What can you do to gain support to help accelerate your transitions and growth?
  • What can you do for yourself to accelerate your own growth for any of these issues?