Expert-Novice Differences in Perceiving and Processing Visual Classroom Information

Kathy Carter, Katherine Cushing, Donna Sabers, Pamela Stein, David Berliner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


Findings from a study designed to examine differences in ex pert and novice teachers' information processing are pre sented. Specifically, results are described which suggest differ ences in the ways expert, novice, and “postulant” teachers perceive, understand, monitor, and process visual information in classrooms. Expert, novice, and postulant subjects were asked to view a series of slides taken in science and mathema tics classrooms and to discuss their perceptions about and reactions to visual stimuli. Subjects were asked to respond to structured interview questions both orally and in writing; the responses were recorded and transcribed for analysis. Protocols and written responses were analyzed through a multi-step, itera tive process designed to determine patterns, trends, and differ ences in both kind and quantity of responses. Results suggested that experts, novices, and postulants differed with respect to their abilities to perceive and interpret classroom information. Experts appeared better able to weigh the import of one piece of visual information against another, to form connections among pieces of information, and to represent management and instructional situations into meaningful problem units. In general, experts appeared to possess comparatively richer schemata for ascribing meaning to visual classroom information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-31
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Teacher Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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