If as CTE educators we have been successful, our students are ready to enter their chosen fields and to continue learning through shared workplace experiences, training and expert mentoring, and eventually, to be able to handle the unforeseen situations that have no current procedures or rules. At that point, they will have become the intuitive, problemsolving experts in their fields, and part of their responsibilities to their fields will be to help others follow in their footsteps.
In this article, we have shared a few of the many studies that have helped us understand how the brain changes as individuals develop skills, moving them along the progression from novice to expert; related what research says about how experts think and solve problems; and connected this research to critical features of CTE that are linked to the development of expertise. And so we can conclude that the answer to our initial question is: Yes, high-quality CTE can change the brain and the ways that individuals think and solve problems. More cognitive research is needed on what happens as individuals gain their particular expertise in CTE programs. D
Hill and Schneider's research indicates that the levels of brain activation and areas involved are different in individuals with different levels of expertise. Their research also shows that the brain reorganizes itself, shifting activity to new neural pathways in other regions, and in some cases there is evidence of an increase in grey matter as an individual gains more skill-based experience and uses different strategies after extended periods of training on a specific task.
Throughout the evolution of our CTE system, from medieval apprenticeships to current standards-based, competencybased and problem-based learning, both in and out of school, CTE has been grounded in the critical elements of developing expertise-"deliberate practice," "over a long period of time," and "within a specific discipline/ occupational area."
1. Hill, N, M.( & Schneider, W. (2006). Brain changes in the development of expertise Neuroanatomies! and neuiophyskslogical evidence about skillbased adaptations. In The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Performance (pp 655-684).
3 Hill. IM. M., a Schneider, W (2006). Brain changes in the development of expertise. Neuroanatomies! and neurophysiological evidence about skill-based adaptations.
4 Maguire, E. A.. Gadian, D G" Johrisrude, I- S., Good, C. D., Ashburner, J., Frackowiak, R S, & Frith, C. D. (2000). Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers. Proceedings of the
5 Maguire, E A . Spiers. H ), Good, C D., Hartley. T. Frackowiak. R S, & Burgess. N. (2003) Navigation expertise and the human hippocampus" A structural brain imaging analysis. Hippocampus. 13. 208-217
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