Novice and Expert: Challenging Professional Education

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Journal of Continuing Higher Education

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Many students return to graduate programs as experts in their prior fields. “Returners,” as they are commonly termed, have undergraduate degrees and have worked five or more years before returning for a graduate degree. While there is a significant body of literature on graduate students in general, there is less research on students returning to graduate studies after accumulating career experience, particularly those entering a professional school such as business, engineering, or education. What we know is that starting back at the novice stage can be difficult and, in some circumstances, result in students not completing. It is prudent to keep this pipeline of returners completing their degrees in these professional fields; therefore, we overlay the concept of novice versus expert with the adult learning principle of acknowledging prior learning and experience to inform professional school pedagogy and practice.


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