Previous research has identified specific differences in cognition between experts and novices in problem-solving domains. To address the question of whether similar distinctions exist among springboard divers, six differences in problem representation and four differences in procedural knowledge were studied in elite and nonelite springboard divers. Subjects reported their thoughts immediately following dive performance. Verbal reports were converted into problem representations and production rules. Analysis of the representations and production rules revealed differences between elite and nonelite divers consistent with distinctions found between expert and novice problem-solvers. Elite problem representations contained more higher order concepts than nonelite representations. Moreover, the elite representations were more richly embedded, containing more concepts, features, and interrelations than the nonelite representations. Also, elite divers cited more production rules than nonelite divers. Elite production rules displayed a greater degree of sophistication in discrimination, proceduralization, composition, and strengthening.
Jeff Huber is with the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology and is the head diving coach at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405.