Expert versus Novice Problem Solving


  • According to researchers, novices solve problems in a hard way. Novices memorize solutions and often pattern match to example problems. Novices don't use many skills, nor do they acquire much technical knowledge. What they do acquire is a collection of memorized procedures for various types of problems.
  • Experts solve problems in an easy way. Experts (a) acquire deep and connected conceptual knowledge, and (b) they apply skills that help them solve each new problem.

Meaning of skill

A skill is something that people do in order to help them reach a goal; that is a skill is an action that helps people reach goals. Examples

  • Stating main assumptions.
  • Sketching an apparatus or situation.
  • Looking up the meaning of a technical term.


  1. Regarding the above intro, which ideas do you agree with? Why? Which do you disagree with? Why?
  2. Skim section 1.5 "Engineering Analysis" in your text. List the five skills that will be most helpful to you.
  3. In your own words, describe the steps in the "Structured Approach to Engineering Problem Solving. How can you use these ideas to help you become a better engineer?
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License