Accessing Expert Understanding: The Value of Visualising Knowledge Structures in Professional Education

  • Ian M. KinchinEmail author


Effective, expert practice requires the activation of complementary knowledge structures. The visible, linear chains of practice that characterise a professional’s activity are underpinned by elaborate networks of understanding that are less visible to the casual observer or to the student in the discipline. The application of concept mapping makes these knowledge structures explicit and also provides a mechanism to visualise the trajectories of learning that are required to achieve expertise and enable the interaction of theory and practice to develop powerful knowledge. The knowledge structures that are made visible can be contextualised using established theoretical frameworks to support the professional development of teachers, and also to evaluate the progression of students through the curriculum. Theoretical aspects of professional learning (such as adaptive expertise, pedagogic frailty, threshold concepts and semantic gravity) become more tangible and applicable when practical examples are visualised using concept maps so that educational theory can be embedded in the articulation of practice. These ideas have profound implications for the evaluation of teaching and for curriculum design in professional education settings.


Powerful knowledge Adaptive expertise Concept mapping 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SurreyGuildfordUK

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