Expertise in Non-Well-Defined Task Domains: The Case of Reading

Sarah Bro Trasmundi*, Edward Baggs, Juan Toro, Sune Vork Steffensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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In this article, we discuss expertise by considering the activity of reading. Cognitive scientists have traditionally conceptualised reading as a single, well-defined task, namely the decoding of letter sequences into meaningful sequences of speech sounds. This definition captures a core feature of the reading activity at the computational level, but it is an overly narrow model of how reading behaviour occurs in the real world. We propose a more expansive model of expertise. In our view, expertise in general is best conceptualised as a distributed process that takes place within a cultural-cognitive ecosystem. Our model allows for a more inclusive view of expertise in reading. We argue that reading is better understood as a manifold task domain that admits multiple reasonable criteria for evaluating performance. We draw on ethnographic data to show how our model allows for a wider appreciation of what expertise in reading amounts to in educational contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Epistemology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)13-27
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • cultural-cognitive ecosystem
  • embodied cognition
  • Expertise
  • reading


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