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Is tacit knowledge communicable?

Exploration into the background of knowledge: How to communicate tacit knowledge?

Peter Baumgartner

on 23 October 2016

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Transcript of Is tacit knowledge communicable?

How to make experiential knowledge reproducible and comparable?
Is tacit knowledge communicable?
(Example Chess)
Video recording and "thinking aloud"
Experiments in Cognitive Psychology
Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, fast and slow.
Michael Polanyi
Tacit Knowledge
From-To-Structure of our Consciousness
explicit, linguistical knowledge
is only the tip of the iceberg

Adrianus de Groot
We recognize patterns formed (unconsciously) by our practice and lifelong experience and are able to draw them effortlessly from our memory
Pattern recognition is not a comparison done element by element but a holistic fit
The fit is not only formally done (syntactically) but needs a semantic framing as well
It is difficult to capture these holistic and interdependent relations with language, experts refer to some heuristics, rule of thumbs
Lücke ??
Wissen ist nicht Können
knowing where
wissen, wo
soziales Wissen
organisationales Wissen
to be able to
knowing how
wissen, wie
prozedurales Wissen
dynamisches Wissen
knowing that
wissen, dass
deklaratives Wissen
statisches Wissen
Daniel Kahneman (1)
Thinking, Fast and Slow
17 x 24 / 2 + 2
Count the occurences of the letter "a" in a page of text
Complete the phrase "bread and…"
Park in a narrow space
Make a "disgust face" when shown a horrible picture
Check the validity of a complex argument
Focus on the voice of a particular person in a crowded and noisy room
Fill out a tax form
Tell someone your phone number
Daniel Kahneman (2)
Schnelles Denken – langsames Denken
Adrianius de Groot
Groot, Adrianus Dingeman de. 2008.
Thought and choice in chess.
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
(Accessed: June 17th, 2013).
Flashing of chess positions
To re-enact the position from memory
Example 1:
Chess positions
Example 2:
Flashing illegal chess positions
Example 3:
Playing chess and thinking aloud
Electro-Shock-Experiments (1)
Shock syllables – Lazarus & Mc Cleary (1949 and 1951): Presenting meaningless syllables, some accompanied with electro-shocks: After a short time the body gets into an expectancy posture which can be measured chemically as well. But the test person can't recall these syllables consciously.
Shock words – Erikson & Kuethe (1958): Words are presented to a test person who associates other words with the stimulus. Some of these associations are accompanied with electro shocks. Soon the test persons learn to prevent these associations unconsciously but are not able to produce them verbally.
Electro Shock-Experiments (2)
"I shall reconsider human knowledge by starting from the fact that
we can know more than we can tell,
… " (1996/2009)
We are able to recognize the face of a person from thousand other faces, but we can't say exactly how we proceed and what are exactly the distinguishing properties. The police uses a special method to reconstruct an identikit photograph from elements of typical facial features according to witnesses' descriptions. This shows that we can communicate our knowledge if we use adequate and additional media besides language.

We know more than we can tell
We can communicate this implicit knowledge if we have the appropriate means at our disposal

focal awareness

Knowledge we focus our attention on
second part =
distal term =
focal attention

subsidiary awareness

Knowledge we rely on
first part =
proximal term =
background awareness
Michael Polanyi:
Structure of tacit knowledge
Other means of communication than language
e.g. dancing
Isadora Duncan
Question from the audience: What does this dance mean?
Answer of Isadora Duncan: If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it" (Bateson 1972:137)
Daniel Kahnemann

We have two different thinking systems
One (System 1) is slow, laborious, needs our full attention
The other (System 2) is fast, intuitive and works effortlessly
System 2 is formed through (life long) experience (and is therefore prone to cognitive illusion and misjudgment)
An Experiment
Assume a person was selected at random from the population of a country, e.g. USA:
This person has been described by a neighbor as follows: "Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful but has little interest in people or in the world of reality. A meek and tidy soul, he has a need for order and structure, and a passion for detail."

Is Steve more likely to be a librarian or a farmer?

Gilbert Ryle:
Critique of the ghost in the machine
Many human actions are properties of the human mind and therefore neither pure operations done intelligently nor their product. Operations can be done intelligently without a foregoing separate process of theoretical planning. Otherwise we are stuck in a never-ending regress. The assumption "at first a bit theory then a bit practice" is an intellectualistic legend or myth.
Gilbert Ryle:
The Concept of Mind
Never-ending Regress
At first
to mind
Gilbert Ryle (1):
Critique of the intellectualistic legend
„… the chess-player must run over in his head all the relevant rules and tactical maxims of the game before he can make correct and skilful moves. To do something thinking what one is doing is, according to this legend, always to do two things… It is to do a bit of theory and then to do a bit of practice.“ (1949/2012:30)
"What distinguishes sensible from silly operations is not their parentage but their procedure, and this holds no less for intellectural than for practical performances. … When I do something intelligently. i.e. thinking what I am doing, I am doing one thing not two. My performance has a special procedure or manner, not special antecedents" (1949/2012: 32).
Gilbert Ryle (2):
Critique of the mind-body dualism
The problem
The solution
Michael Polanyi
Rules are useful, but...
How to communicate
experiential knowledge?

and pattern language
Form for structuring a lesson
Marc Böhmann (2010). Die neuen kommen! Gut starten in Schule und Kollegium. Supplement zum Friedrich Jahresheft 2010 (Lehrerarbeit – Lehrer sein), S. 21.
Forms for lesson planning
Hubert Dreyfus
From Novices to Experts
Dreyfus, Hubert L. 2002. On the Internet. 1. Aufl. Routledge.
Dreyfus, Hubert L, and Stuart E Dreyfus. 1986. Mind over Machine: The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of Computer. New York: Free Press.
Rules as Guideposts for Beginners...
to be able to
knowing how
Procedural Knowledge
Dynamic Knowledge
Process Knowledge
knowing that
Declarative Knowledge
Static Knowledge
Factual Knowledge
Knowledge is not Mastery
knowing where
Social Knowledge
Organisational Knowledge
Orientational Knowledge
Gap ??
Lücke ??
Wissen ist nicht Können
knowing where
wissen, wo
soziales Wissen
organisationales Wissen
to be able to
knowing how
wissen, wie
prozedurales Wissen
dynamisches Wissen
knowing that
wissen, dass
deklaratives Wissen
statisches Wissen
Opitcal Illusions
3-D interpretation
of 2-D graphics
Knowledge has a from-to structure. We focus our attention
some object we rely on (subsidiary awareness)
an object we want to act on (focal awareness).
Tacit knowledge has a holistic character and can't be deconstructed into a collection of single elements.
Tacit knowledge is therefore never explicable completely: Whenever we make knowledge explicit, we need a basis to go from, a basis we have to rely on.
In order to convey tacit knowledge we need appropriate means of communication.
of the theory of tacit knowledge
(Michael Polanyi)
All explicit knowledge is grounded into a huge sea of implicit knowledge (= experiential knowledge)
Pattern Language for ePortfolios
Pattern: Sequence of Elements to Analyze
Pattern 112: Entrance Transition
...comfortable arriving at the place, and comfortable leaving.

This sequence gives you the tools, in a few steps, to design an entrance transition for your house.
An entrance transition is the area between the street and the front door of a building. When it is made well, it makes a transition from public to private, and the outdoor space allows you to be comfortable...
The core of the solution:
Transition from public to private needs gradually passaging
Pattern: Sequence of Elements for Application
“Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.”
– Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language, 1977
What are patterns from the experiental point of view?
Start with the solution ("Good Practice")
und analyze the problem
Look at the problem from a specific perspective (context) and – if it is appropriate for you – apply the solution
Pattern language is the unconscious background of knowledge we rely on in order to apply the appropriate pattern (action) to solve a problem
I focus my attention to the nail (= focal or central awareness)
I feel the handle of the hammer at my ball of the thumb
(= subsidiary awareness)
Bauer, Reinhard und Peter Baumgartner. 2012. Schaufenster des Lernens – Eine Sammlung von Mustern zur Arbeit mit E-Portfolios. Münster: Waxmann.
---. 2011. A First Glimpse at the Whole – Christopher Alexander’s Fifteen Fundamental Properties of Living Centers and Their Implication for Education. In: Kloster Irrsee/Bavaria: Hillside Europe. http://peter.baumgartner.name/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/A_first_Glimpse_at_the_Whole_preprint.pdf.
Baumgartner, Peter. 2011. Taxonomie von Unterrichtsmethoden : Ein Plädoyer für didaktische Vielfalt. Münster Westf: Waxmann.
---. 2006. Unterrichtsmethoden als Handlungsmuster - Vorarbeiten zu einer didaktischen Taxonomie für E-Learning. In: DeLFI 2006: 4. e-Learning Fachtagung Informatik - Proceedings, hg von. Max Mühlhäuser, Guido Rößling, und Ralf Steinmetz, P-87:51–62. Lecture Notes in Informatics. Gesellschaft für Informatik.
http://peter.baumgartner.name/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/baumgartner_2006d.pdf (Zugegriffen: 22. Juni 2013).
---. 1993. Der Hintergrund des Wissens - Vorarbeiten zu einer Kritik der programmierbaren Vernunft. Bd. 26. Klagenfurter Beiträge zur bildungswissenschaftlichen Forschung. Klagenfurt: Kärntner Druck- und Verlagsgesellschaft m.b.Hhttp://peter.baumgartner.name/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/hdw-buch.pdf (Zugegriffen: 22. Juni 2013).
Verwendete Literatur 1
Another form for structuring a lesson
"Rules of art can be useful but thy do not determine the practice of an art; they are maximes, which can serve as a guide to an art only if they can be integrated into the practical knowledge of the art. They cannot replace this knowledge." (Personal Knowledge, p. 50)
Daniel Kahneman (1)
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman (2)
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Empirical Data from Expert Knowledge
Two different meanings of patterns
Bibliography (1)
Bibliography (2)
Lesson learned: What does it mean for Higher Education?
The validation of non-formal and informal learning supports experiential learning, work-based learning and lifelong learning in general. Validation procedures are challenging, mostly because of the

tacit nature

of experiential learning

How could validation procedures be improved by our findings?
Four principles to be considered in validation procedures:
Patterns of Relationships
Unfolding Wholeness
Emergence and Recursion
How about real validation procedures?
An example: Validation procedures at UoC
....but is it possible to grasp the wholeness of experiential learning through current validation procedures?
1) A different
symbolic system
is necessary, which is able to communicate tacit knowledge in an holistic way: A
notational system
, based on Alexander's pattern theory.
Linguistic expressions are limited - the skills unfold within the action.
Thank You For Your Attention!
Thank You For Your Attention!
"...practical wisdom is more truly embodied in action than expressed in rules of action." (Personal Knowledge, p.54)
"An art, which cannot be specified in detail cannot be transmitted by prescription, since no prescription for it exists. It can be passed on only by example
from master to apprentice
." (S. 53)
5 Stages of Skill Acquisition
Two Implications!
2) A
pattern language
needs to be developed, expressing interrelationships and addressing adequately the complexity of validation procedures
The 5 Stages of a Validation Procedure
Elements of a Pattern
Name & Image
: It should be appropriate and characteristic
: Environment where the pattern applies
: Difficulty that the pattern should overcome
: Area of conflicts where the pattern is embedded and reasons why the the solution is difficult or may fail
: Details how the problem can be solved
: Implications arising from the application of the pattern
(Some) Dimensions of Feedback
: How specific is the Feedback? general or specific?
: Immediately/ delayed
Teaching strategy
: To support the learning process (formative)/ to evaluate the learning outcomes (summative)
: once / determined number / as often as necessary
: What is the feedback referring to? Exam / Question / Answer / Trial …

Feedback-Settings in Moodle
Overall Feedback
: Addresses the complete quiz, always at the end (Evaluation, Grading)
General Feedback
: For each question, independent if answered correctly or wrongly
Specific Feedback
: For each selected answer
Combined Feedback
: Result in general terms (right, wrong, partially right)
Indicated Feedback
: Hints for every try
: Status of the result but modified by the weight self evaluated certainty if the answer is correct
in Moodle
: Just grading (summative feedback)
: Immediate feedback, indicating if the answer is true or false, unlimited trials, without grading (formative)
: Immediate feedback with explanation, without grading (formative)
: Simulation of exam with simulated grading
: Learner receives recommended material according to the quiz results.

Some Feedback-Patterns
Examples of good practices (solutions)
Full transcript