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.
Sue L. McPherson
This study examined how conceptual knowledge concerning batting preparation develops with playing experience and how this knowledge influences decision making during a simulated game situation. Twelve experts, their coach, and 12 novices viewed a half-inning of a videotaped collegiate baseball game and assumed the role of the fourth batter. Propositional-type analysis of subjects' think-aloud protocols revealed experts' conceptual representation of batting preparation enabled them to search through a highly restricted problem space, which facilitated the development of sophisticated condition-action rules used to solve the problem. Experts' rules were more tactical, refined, and associated compared to novices' rules. Experts were different from novices in what attributes were considered important to solving the problem. Experts generated self-regulatory strategies to update, check, and modify their predictions of pitcher characteristics. This study provides initial evidence of the nature of adult expert sport performers' conceptual knowledge underlying decision making in sport situations.