University of Oulu

Adaptive expertise in teamwork environment : the importance of social aspects in expert work and learning

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Author: Pihlaja, Kaisa1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Pages: 77
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : K. Pihlaja, 2016
Publish Date: 2016-08-24
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Vuopala, Essi
Reviewer: Vuopala, Essi
Impiö, Niina
Today’s society and modern working life is in a constant change which poses challenges for professional expertise as well as to educational systems that are expected to produce the future experts. Work tasks are becoming increasingly complex and multifaceted in which domain-specific knowledge and routine expertise may not suffice anymore, but calls for adaptive expertise: the ability to adapt in new and unfamiliar settings, use knowledge flexibly in creating high-quality, innovative solutions to problems, and to constantly learn new and renew expertise. The previous studies on expertise have informed our understanding about expert performance and learning of expertise, but have mainly concentrated on the cognitive aspects of expertise. Thus it is important to gain more information about adaptive expertise, and especially about the social aspects of adaptive expertise which has been studied less. Also, due to the challenging nature of expert work in modern working life and the fact that work is in increasing amounts performed in teams, this context is important to study. The current study aims at exploring adaptive expertise in working life, more precisely, in the context of teamwork environment to gain more information about the social aspects of adaptive expertise, learning of expertise, and what kind of an effect teamwork environment has in it. The participants in the current study were six adaptive experts from ICT domain. ICT domain was selected as the setting for studying adaptive expertise for the reasons that the domain includes knowledge workers whose jobs require specialization and adaptive expertise on specific domains, often knowledge on only one domain is not enough but diverse knowhow and skills are needed, and work is mainly done in teams. The data was gathered with semi-structured interviews and qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the interview data. The results of the present study give further evidence that adaptive expertise is a highly social phenomenon. Adaptive experts possess good social skills which they make use of when solving work-related complex problems in collaboration with other people, which in turn leads to further growth of their knowledge and skills. The current study also brought forward the various challenges but also the affordances of teamwork environment which not only provide for effective problem solving but also learning and developing expertise when collaborating with other people. Also, the results of this study give support to the view that ICT companies could be considered as second-order environments that promote learning of expertise. In an ICT company the continual contributions to technological and strategical knowledge means that conditions keep changing, and thus there is a need to adapt to these progressive set of conditions. This in turn means that experts need to continually redefine problems at a higher and usually more complex level that are beyond their existing competence, which in turn develops their expertise further. Based on the results of the current study, implications are suggested related to optimal composition of teams as well as communication and information sharing in organizations, the importance of collaborative problem solving in educating future experts, as well as how in expert research the social aspects of adaptive expertise and learning of expertise should be regarded with equal importance as the cognitive aspects.
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Copyright information: © Kaisa Pihlaja, 2016. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.