What defines the difference between a novice and an expert? Fact recall and content knowledge?
A research study documented in How People Learn explored how two sets of people handled historical information. The first group, accomplished historians, hailed from many different universities and many different specializations. The second group, AP US History students, had spent the last several months carefully preparing for the advanced placement exam.
Although the AP US history students scored much higher on an exam of basic facts, they were not able to distinguish between competing claims or see patterns between events and concepts.
Consider the following quote from How People Learn:
What does this mean for teachers?
- Spend less time focusing on content acquisition. In today's "on demand" world, there is a limited need to memorize aimless facts or figures.
- Spend more time helping students craft powerful stories and themes that connect events within and between disciplines. For example, how is loyalty expressed in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the progression of scientific discovery?
- Spiral your curriculum around big ideas and transfer goals. For example, how does the concept of identity change as you explore different periods of classical literature? By continuing to envelope new content into students' big ideas and enduring understandings, they will be better prepared to use their knowledge beyond the classroom.
Let's build classrooms of experts.