Novice and Expert Learners

Benander (Links to an external site.) (2009) contends that “experts negotiate the learning space differently from novices.” Reflect on your own experiences with that. Compose a brief (no more than three paragraphs) post to describe the differences you’ve observed between novices and experts in your field. Share your essay with the class by making a new post in this discussion.

I teach a combination design and technology-based course. Most of my student come into the class with one of the other, but not very often to they have experience in both and some students have little experience in either one.

Those who have the aptitude for technology or have more experience with software usually perform better in the beginning of the course because the objectives are mostly related to selecting menu items and pushing buttons. I’ve taken the design decisions off their plate. Each week new features of the software are introduced as well as additional design practices pertaining to the specific feature. Those who have the technology skills seem to be better able implementing their design understanding sooner than those who struggle with the software. Some of this frustration comes out in their reflections and when they are discussion the ideas that they had and then what they were able to implement. I can usually tell when students have become comfortable with the software as soon as their projects begin to take on better design practices. The feedback advice that Benander gives in her article, “…to use feedback methods that allow for detailed suggestions to help novice students acquire the tools they need to make corrections for themselves.” is advice that I try to implement in my own feedback to students, although I do let them struggle with coming up with a solution for a short time so that the do keep trying and not give up too easily. (p. 38)

In about week eleven of the semester I have a re-do week where students may choose to re-do any of their assignments for a higher grade. I continually get comments from students who say they can’t believe the silly errors they made in the beginning and the realization that they have really learned a lot in a relatively short time. I can tell when a student is making that shift from novice to expert through the feedback that they are asked to give on their cohort’s projects by using their new vocabulary and citing design principles that we’ve learned in the class.


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