Expert learners

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What is meant by the concept of the expert learner? How does a novice learner differ from that of an expert? These are important questions for us to explore if we as teachers are to understand how to design learning experiences and environments to develop the expert learner. Have you wondered why some students can confidently tackle the subjects they study and succeed? How do they do this? The concept of an expert learner is not new.

According to Ertmer and Newby (1996), the expert learner is: "strategic, self-regulated, and reflective" (p. 3). Expert learners know 'how to learn' and how to consistently achieve their goals to succeed.

Characteristics of the expert learner

Expert learners are considered to have three main characteristics (Wild & Heck, 2011).

They are known to:

  • actively engage - participate to develop knowledge and understanding;
  • take responsibility - take charge;
  • practice self-regulated learning - plan, monitor and evaluate own learning.

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Explore what it takes to be an expert learner

  • View the video (1.42 min) below.
How are the views different from what you think and believe?
Did anything surprise you?

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Self-directed learning

Developing the expert learner

Do you believe that all teachers are already experts? Or do you believe that before teachers can guide students to develop skills as expert learners, they too must become proficient as learners? Can experts potentially be found anywhere? Find out if you have some of these specific characteristics of an expert and independent learner?

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How can you develop as an expert learner?
  • Reflect on all the characteristics that you already have as an expert learner.
  • Discuss what is missing and why.
  • How will you develop skills to strengthen these characteristics?
  • Post this reflective discussion to your blog.
  • Share a link to your post on the Moodle discussion forum, posing a stimulus question or statement to the class to interest them in your perspective.


  • Ertmer, P. & Newby, T. (1996). The expert learner: Strategic, self-regulated, and reflective. Instructional Science 24(1), 1-24. (Available on Moodle.)
  • Wild, M. & Heck, J.(2011). Expert learners. ID 4 the Web.