Tool Development #3 – Determining the Ability to Use a Tool

Once we determined the tools we wanted learners to learn to use and organized them into categories for simplicity we tackled the difficult idea of Usability.  We know the first few times someone uses a new tool, their proficiency with it is weak, but not entirely incompetent. Usually there are some parts of their use that are “on the right track.” Over time with use in similar situations the proficiency increases.

Schwartz, a Cognitive Scientist out of Stanford, suggests that true expertise (which he calls Adaptive Expertise) is not only about proficiency but ability to use in innovative situations.  (

Schwartz's model

“Adaptive expertise is more appropriate for situations of high variability. Rather than replicating efficient routines, adaptive experts vary their behaviors and understanding in response to a changing environment.”  Adaptive Expertise requires both efficiency experiences and innovative experiences.

This model allows for  the development of Adaptive Expertise.  All of the real estate between point (0,0) and the goal is fair game for an individual’s journey to Adaptive Expertise.  Thus we considered how to map out the potential development of tool use ability and came up with a grid rubric.

Grid Rubric Graphic

Our next step is to define what adaptive expertise for our age group looks and sounds like (for each tool); AND then what approximations of that use could look and sound like. Since learning is our priority, this grid will provide the basis for assessment of tool use within our game.




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