Academic journal article Journal of Interactive Learning Research

Elicitation Support Requirements of Multi-Expertise Teams

Academic journal article Journal of Interactive Learning Research

Elicitation Support Requirements of Multi-Expertise Teams

Article excerpt

Tools to support knowledge elicitation are used more and more in situations where employees or students collaborate using the computer. Studies indicate that differences exist between experts and novices regarding their methods of work and reasoning. However, the commonly preferred approach tends to deal with team members as a single system with "common," shared preferences. The question is, to what extent this approach is optimal. Potential difficulties with uniform knowledge elicitation support for workplace or work-place-like settings of teamwork can be derived from the literature. We carried out two studies to investigate whether or not support tools for knowledge elicitation should explicitly take into account the expertness of team members.


To gather qualitative data concerning critical factors of effective knowledge elicitation support for professional teamwork, a Delphi study with known experts was conducted. The experts accentuate the significance of a context-fit of supportive action over content or functionality. In their opinion, prompting must be tailored to the task at hand, team characteristics, team culture, and context. In a second study we gathered qualitative insights into user-elicitation preferences, especially in relation to a user's proficiency in the field. Subjects of this study were graduate students studying for a profession as social worker. Respondents' elicitation preferences didn't correlate significantly with the expertness dimension. Further interpretation and comparison of the results from both studies appear to indicate that it is not so much the proficiency of the team members, but the attunement of context, that is critical for the effect of elicitation support.

More and more, professional learning takes place in open learning environments, co-operating with peers. Computer-mediated forms of collaboration between distributed team members are becoming part of daily practice. Cases in professional practice and computer supported learning show that effective knowledge communication in computer-mediated groups doesn't emerge automatically. Many problems with information and knowledge exchange during collaborative task execution are reported (Alpay, Giboin, & Dieng, 1998; Mulder, Swaak, & Kessels, 2002; Zack, 1998). Underperformance might occur when relevant knowledge of individual team members cannot be taken into account, since it isn't clearly articulated or understood (Allee, 1997; Buckingham Shum & Hammond, 1994).

High quality output of multidisciplinary teams within tight time constraints becomes crucially important in our society (Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Drucker, 1992; Kogut & Zander, 1992; Brown & Duguid, 1998). With the growing importance of virtual collaboration on knowledge intensive tasks both in professional and educational practice, systematic investigation into enablers for effective knowledge articulation is needed (Brown & Duguid, 2000; Johnson & Johnson, 1994; Plotzner, Dillenbourg, Preier, & Traum, 1999; Conklin, Selvin, Buckingham Shum, & Sierhuis, 2001). The implicit knowledge of individuals is seen as crucial for the collective performance (Polanyi, 1967; Leonard & Sensiper, 1998; Nonaka, 1991; Von Krogh, Ichijo, & Nonaka, 2000; Boisot, 1998). So, within the collective quest for a shared solution in multi-disciplinary, multi-expertise teams it is relevant to focus on augmentation of adequate knowledge articulation and communication. Hence, investigation into the first resource for team knowledge building is needed to understand processes that lie at the roots of emerging common ground and collective action in the team process (Beers, Boshuizen, & Kirschner 2003; Selvin, 1999).

Insight is needed to incite knowledge articulation by way of support scenarios which augment collaborative elicitation. Before a well-founded scenario for augmentation of collaborative elicitation can be designed, more insight is needed regarding the impact of specific variables such as levels of expertise. …

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