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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: June 2012

35 - Tacit Knowledge, Practical Intelligence, and Expertise



The drive to excel has long challenged humans to push their bodies, minds, and technologies in the determined pursuit of success. People have demonstrated their devotion to excellence through the years of effort and practice they have been willing to invest in accomplishing their goals (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993). For example, Simon and Chase (1973) observed that no one had ever attained the rank of Grandmaster in chess without at least a decade of intense preparation. This observation has since been extended to many domains, including music, sports, and academia (Bloom, 1985; Ericsson et al., 1993; Ericsson, Chapter 38). Despite folk tales about extraordinary performances by very young individuals, it is clear that the most eminent individuals in any field do not exhibit expert levels of performance prior to an extended period of preparation.

Exploration of the nature of expertise and how it develops has interested scholars, professionals, and laypeople alike, and has involved a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches. One of the enduring debates over many years of study is whether the development of expertise is largely attributable to unusual characteristics of individuals, often thought of in terms of largely inherited talents, or of their learning histories (see Horn & Masunaga, Chapter 34).

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