The Mental Process of an Expert

Expertise is essentially when someone gains a great deal of information about a topic or subject. Studying expertise is important because if we know how experts think and work, it can inform instruction and teaching. Start with broader, conceptual understanding of how knowledge is organized, then move on to where, when and how to apply the knowledge. Then it is important to distinguish content versus teaching expertise, as knowing is different than being able to teach it. The best way to teach, is to combine the learner’s metacognition with motivation. But what does that even mean!?

 

Metacognition involves the different types of knowledge we obtain of our mental processes and how we regulate those processes in order for our learning to take place. Metacognition is thinking about the process of cognition, and knowing about thinking. The three types of knowledge associated with Metacognition include declarative, procedural, and conditional. Declarative knowledge is a factual or declarative statement. The Meta part is just being aware that we possess the knowledge. Procedural knowledge is the process or actions for addressing a task. The Meta part is being aware of the process. Conditional knowledge is how to use declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge. The Meta part is then being aware of when to apply this knowledge.

Motivation is a construct that is used to explain the initiation, intensity and persistence of an individual’s behavior. We can look to Deci and Ryan’s Cognitive Evaluation Theory for help. This theory explains that how rewards are perceived is critical in determining whether intrinsic motivation increases or decreases. Intrinsic motivation is the inherent desire to engage one’s interests and to exercise and develop one’s capacities. If one thinks the reward controls behavior, intrinsic motivation decreases. If one thinks the reward gives positive feedback about his/her competence, intrinsic motivation increases.

 

Metacognition needs to be tied to motivation in order for an expert to teach their students. Both ideas are similar as they both contribute to an individual’s capacity to learn new things. Metacognition is fundamentally how our mind processes information for learning to take place. Motivation explains why we act upon certain things. Essentially, metacognition and motivation work together in the learning process. Metacognition is thinking about the process of cognition, and knowing about thinking. Motivation is a construct that is used to explain the initiation, intensity and persistence of an individual’s behavior. So one has to go through metacognition to understand what is motivating them. And once they do so, that is how they will learn.

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