In our previous post in the tacit knowledge series we took a look at Applied Cognitive Task Analysis (ACTA), a simpler technique to extract tacit expertise from the heads of experts around you.
A natural response to that post is … “ok, so after you extract that tacit knowledge — now what?” This is an understandable reaction, because the next step after doing all that skill extraction is to use it to learn — to develop a training program for yourself or for others. The main problem with this is that good pedagogy is difficult to do. And, as it happens, I’ve not spent any time talking about how Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) researchers turn their insights into actual training programs.
Why? Well, this is simple: I haven’t found a good, generalised resource in the NDM literature on how they do so. What I have found is a place in the NDM world to dig; this post is to tell you all about it.
I’ve mentioned previously that the entire field of Naturalistic Decision Making is built around this notion of ‘we’ll interview experts, and then we’ll extract the expertise from their heads, and then we’ll turn that into training programs or use the outputs to redesign user interfaces’. I said that the field is incredibly applied; much of the work was funded by the military or by corporations with Serious Expertise Needs (think: nuclear power plant control systems, fraud detection at Nasdaq, etc). We’ve already spent an entire series of blog posts looking at some of NDM’s techniques for extracting expertise, which is interesting for all the obvious reasons: how many of us, after all, have had the experience where we want to get better but the expertise we desire is locked up in the heads of senior practitioners? There aren’t a lot of places you can go to that specialises in skill extraction; NDM is one of the few subfields of psychology where the researchers have had success extracting tacit mental models of expertise.