Skip to main content
Thinking like a Research Expert: Schemata for Teaching Complex Problem-Solving Skills
Legal Reference Services Quarterly (2009)
  • Paul D. Callister, University of Missouri-Kansas City

The difference between expert and novice problem-solvers is that experts have organized their thinking into schemata or mental constructs to both see and solve problems. This article demonstrates why schemata are important, arguing that schemata need to be made explicit in the classroom. It illustrates the use of schemata to understand and categorize complex research problems, map the terrain of legal research resources, match appropriate resources to types of problems, and work through the legal research process. The article concludes by calling upon librarians and research instructors to produce additional schemata and develop a common hierarchical taxonomy of skills, a “Bloom’s Taxonomy,” which would define problem-solving skills more precisely and set benchmarks for assessment.

  • legal research,
  • instruction,
  • education,
  • problem-solving,
  • skills,
  • schemata,
  • schema,
  • pedagogy
Publication Date
January, 2009
Publisher Statement
This is a draft copy only. The published version appears in 28 LEGAL REFERENCES SERVICES QUARTERLY 31-51 (2009), which version should be cited in subsequent publications. Per policy of Taylor & Francis, the publisher of Legal Reference Services Quarterly, the published version should be available eighteen months after the article appears in print.
Citation Information
Paul D. Callister. "Thinking like a Research Expert: Schemata for Teaching Complex Problem-Solving Skills" Legal Reference Services Quarterly Vol. 28 Iss. 1-2 (2009)
Available at: