Blueprint for Situation & Experience Learning

Barbara Daley (1999) built upon Dreyfus’ model of skill levels, with a study into the different learning processes used by ‘novices’ and ‘experts’. These are my observations of some of the key ideas from her paper: Novice to Expert: How do Professionals Learn?


  1. Learn through a process of ‘Concept Formation’
  2. Have little experience of real situations.
  3. Rely heavily on the rules they learned in their prepatory education
  4. Learn in one setting and transfer the knowledge over to their work environment
  5. Their learning process is affected by fear, mistakes and the need for validation
  6. Often describe feeling “overwhelmed”, “scared to death” and “terrified of making a mistake”

In contrast an expert in the same profession will use a more informal learning process:


  1. Learn through a process of ‘Constructivist Learning’
  2. Have an intuitive grasp of the situation
  3. Their knowledge base involves the integration of thinking, feeling and acting
  4. Have a knowledge based in practice rather than an apply/transfer theory to practice knowledge. They refer to having “a blueprint in their mind”
  5. Their active integration of concepts included an ability to “improvise”, “pick up little things” and “draw from experiences”