The dictionary defines the term 'Expert' as 'A person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority: a language expert [Dictionary (2008 1)].

Another definition refers 'Expert' as 'A person who is able to recognise and diagnose a new problem in a new situation. Knows the answer to many problems. Knows how to solve new problems [Expertise (2008 2)].

Theoretical frame

An expert can be defined by two meanings
1.Individuals who display exceptional or superior talent by exception. This is talent which is not common such as the expertise of a master chess player
2.Individuals who are professionals or specialist in a certain field. These are experts by knowledge and have gained this status over time with a vast amount of experience.

Expertise may consist of the interpretation of complex visual data such as an EFIS system or radar screens. How much of a expert an individual is depends on how fast he/she can interpret the data shown and to what level of depth. It may also refer to a timing of an action, as well as the correct action of choice; it may include adjustments in advance to take into account the expected reactions of others [Hopkins (1988 3)].

Characteristics of an Expert

•A minimum of 10 years of consistent practice, sand in some cases more for certain fields
•A characterization of "deliberate practice", in which the practitioner must come up with new ways to encourage and enable themselves to reach new levels of performance
•Phases of learning which is characterized by enjoyment, excitement, and participation in the absence of outcome-related goals
•Due to a high level of familiarity or advanced knowledge, experts are able to develop more abstract perspectives of their concepts and/or performances, thus creating the ability to rearrange or construct a higher dimension of creativity [ Starkes & Ericsson (2003 7)].

Acquiring Expertise (Information processing approach vs abilities approach)

The information processing approach based on knowledge and skills acquired through experience whilst the abilities approach focuses on the innate abilities of people that lead to exceptional performance in a particular domain [Reeds (2004 5)].
A well known way that expertise is acquired is known as the problem solving process.
This is where an individual constructs a representation for a problem from connecting with prior knowledge. A solution if then sourced and whether it is implemented depends on whether it succeeds or fails, this constant repetition of problem solving leads to constant feedback and creates a wealth of knowledge to a new or already existent are which over time results in expertise of a certain subject area [Reeds (2004 5)].

Levels of expertise
Expertise can be divided into three levels:
Naïveté’s – have a superficial understanding of problems presented
Experts - in the middle
Masters – Have an articulated, conceptual and principled understanding of problems [Pérezgonzález (2007 4)].

Expert systems can be used to enhance the level of expertise already demonstrated by a human being. An example of this is found in aviation with systems such as the Flight Management System (FMS), which for example can provide a step by step trouble shooting guide to an emergency or abnormality in flight e.g. A320. Which enables the pilot to solve the problem quickly and efficiently and thus be able to use his/her refined expert knowledge in more in depth areas of the rouble shooting such as determining where the source of the problem came from, what other systems it may affect and even if it is a known problem within a certain type of aircraft.
Such expert systems may also be applicable to Air Traffic control (ATC), where the system incorporates relevant human knowledge into a data base contain other information such as sensed data, rules and algorithms, which is made accessible to all users [Richie (1988 6)].

Managing expertise
Managing expertise is important for the Human Factor manager as it enables an individual under guidance to progress from the level of Naïveté to Master.
There are elements that must be considered, these are listed as:
• Selection
• Ensuring expert cover should a member of staff be absent
• Adequate training
• General health promotion and surveillance schemes [Pérezgonzález (2007 4)].

Supporting evidence

Refuting evidence

Way forward (to do list)

1. (2008). definition of “Expert”. Retrieved 2008-09-27 at
2. Expertise (2008). Notes on Expertise. Retrieved 2008-09-27 at
3. Hopkin, D (1988). Air Traffic Control. Human Factors in Aviation. Academic Press Inc (California, USA)
4. Pérezgonzález, J (2007). 190.313 Advanced Aviation Human Factors study guide. School of Aviation, Massey University, NZ
5. Reed, S (2004). Expertise and Creativity. Cognition: Theory and Applications. Wadsworth (California, USA
6. Ritchie, M (1988). General Aviation. Human Factors in Aviation. Academic Press Inc (California, USA)
7. Starkes, J. L. & Ericsson, K. A. (2003). Expert Performance in Sports: Advances in Research on Sport Expertise. Retrieved 2008-09-27 at

Knowledge Management Space


Wiki of Science Team (contributors to this page)

Authors / Editors

Daryl ChenDaryl Chen
ZiZhanG NGZiZhanG NG


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