The capability of static and dynamic features to distinguish competent from genuinely expert practitioners in pediatric diagnosis

Thomas Loveday*, Mark W. Wiggins, Ben J. Searle, Marino Festa, David Schell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objective: The authors describe the development of a new, more objective method of distinguishing experienced competent nonexpert from expert practitioners within pediatric intensive care. Background: Expert performance involves the acquisition and use of refined feature-event associations (cues) in the operational environment. Competent nonexperts, although experienced, possess rudimentary cue associations in memory. Thus, they cannot respond as efficiently or as reliably as their expert counterparts, particularly when key diagnostic information is unavailable, such as that provided by dynamic cues. Method: This study involved the application of four distinct tasks in which the use of relevant cues could be expected to increase both the accuracy and the efficiency of diagnostic performance. These tasks included both static and dynamic stimuli that were varied systematically. A total of 50 experienced pediatric intensive staff took part in the study. Results: The sample clustered into two levels across the tasks: Participants who performed at a consistently high level throughout the four tasks were labeled experts, and participants who performed at a lower level throughout the tasks were labeled competent nonexperts. The groups differed in their responses to the diagnostic scenarios presented in two of the tasks and their ability to maintain performance in the absence of dynamic features. Conclusion: Experienced pediatricians can be decomposed into two groups on the basis of their capacity to acquire and use cues; these groups differ in their diagnostic accuracy and in their ability to maintain performance in the absence of dynamic features. Application: The tasks may be used to identify practitioners who are failing to acquire expertise at a rate consistent with their experience, position, or training. This information may be used to guide targeted training efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-137
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Factors
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

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