Acquiring Expertise and Cognitive Skills in the Process of Constructing an Expert System: A Preliminary Study
This study investigated the educational implications of having a group of 17 first-year New Zealand nursing students develop a medical expert system. Goals of the study were to determine whether, in the process of developing the expert system, the learners could: (1) acquire a more in-depth understanding of the specific subject domain under study (namely, how to identify alcoholic patients); (2) develop a more complex set of problem solving strategies; and (3) acquire conditional reasoning skills. An ethnographic case study approach was adopted. The learners participated as a whole class in six sessions over a period of 10 weeks, for a total of 10 contact hours. In addition to whole class sessions, they met in small groups to interview subject matter experts. Participants then met as a whole class to share their information and to construct rules for the knowledge base of the expert system. Both quantitative and qualitative measures were used to describe how the learners could use computers to acquire knowledge and thinking skills in a group learning context where computers were used as tools. Data were collected using the following instruments: pre- and posttests to measure gains in reasoning abilities; student worksheets to solicit information on the participants' problem solving strategies and knowledge representation; students' logs; and questionnaires to collect information on students' background, knowledge acquisition, and attitudes towards the expert system as an instructional aid. Due to the preliminary nature of the study and the short time frame, no claim was made as to the extent of the improvement in problem solving and reasoning skills; however, the results clearly indicated that expert systems can be used to enhance the development of certain reasoning skills and also to facilitate the acquisition of a deeper understanding of the subject domain under study. (6 references) (GL)
Lai, K.W. Acquiring Expertise and Cognitive Skills in the Process of Constructing an Expert System: A Preliminary Study.