One of many posts on my Readiness Assessment. As a reminder of the ground rules, this is a solo assessment, so while I’m allowed to think out loud on my blog, I can’t ask for or get (intellectual) help. Cookies and emotional support are, however, welcome.

The best Readiness is a done Readiness, right? Right. Right right right. So I should actually STOP LISTING AFFORDANCES and finish writing other sections despite being able to think about MORE AFFORDANCES. I've listed some, and that's ENOUGH.

Wow. Okay. It's interesting how close to the cliff-edge I feel when I'm writing this -- I don't feel the same way when I'm putting together audacious projects, because if I get them to work, then I've "got it right." On the other hand, if I write this stuff down, I can't tell if I've "got it right" or if I'm spewing gibberish -- it's incredibly uncomfortable, writing with pretty much no feedback loop. I don't do well without dialogue! I want to write outside a vacuum again!

Anyway. Affordances. So I can STOP ALREADY.

Types of participants in RTR

Regardless of where those boundaries are drawn, we can picture the participants in RTR as follows:

Peripheral Expert: What's happening in the practice?
Full expert: How is the practice seen?
Peripheral Novice: What is the practice?
Full novice: How is the practice done?

Both dimensions in the 2x2 matrix are oversimplifications that make me flinch. Reality is much more complex and fluid than this table indicates. A more accurate representation would display both novice/expert and peripheral/full as continuums, but even this misses out on the shifting, stuttering, and socially constructed nature of the terms. After all, the notion of „novice“ and „expert“ are relative, and Lave and Wenger (1991) point out that the concept of peripherality itself suggests „multiple, varied... ways of being located in the fields of participation defined by a community,“ suggesting „full participation“ as a better alternative to describing non-peripheral participants as standing in a single „core“ or „center“ that does not exist (p. 35-37).

I would much rather use dualities such as participation/reification (Wenger, 1998, p. 66) to describe participants and their activities, but realized that this would quickly render my writing unintelligible to all but the most stalwart academic. Wenger's definition of a duality will soon explain why: it is a „...single conceptual unit that is formed by two inseparable and mutually constitutive elements whose inherent tension and complementarity give the concept richness and dynamism... two dimensions that interact [but] do not define a spectrum“ (p. 66). Perhaps I will return to this challenge at a later date – for instance, in my dissertation. However, In the interests of keeping my writing (more) transparent to you, the reader, I have chosen to use simple dichotomies of opposites here so that we have a simple way to discuss the possibilities RTR enables for each of these four groups.

What are the possibilities enabled by RTR?

Now that we've established (temporarily and somewhat arbitrarily for convenience) four types of participants present in RTR, we are able to discuss the possibilities enabled by it using the concept of affordances. First articulated by James Gibson (1977) and developed further by Donald Norman (1988), an affordance is a combination of properties that a thing has that determine just how that thing could possibly be used (Gibson, 1977, p. 67; Norman, 1988, p. 19). In other words, as Norman puts it, affordances suggest what a thing "is-for." Gibson's original definition also specified that the combinations of properties that made up a particular affordance must be "taken with reference to" an actor, which was the reason we needed to define the groups of participants in the last section. The actors under consideration here are those peripheral/full/novice/expert participants involved in both the practice and research of college-level engineering education.

Our job here is a bit tricky, because we're describing affordances that most of the actors under question don't currently see. Norman gleefully describes the obviousness of affordances that are deliberately designed into existence, noting that they "provide strong clues to the operation of things. Plates are for pushing. Knobs are for turning. Slots are for inserting things into... the user knows what to do just by looking: no picture, label, or instruction is required." (Norman, 1988, p. 9). Alas, this is decidedly not the case with the RTR brings into our domain; since transparency is usually not something that's forethought in college-level engineering education, it's our job to decouple the notion of what-things-are-made-for (design intent) from what-they-can-be-used-for (affordance).

This act of repurposing is similar to Kuhn's (1962) notion of a paradigm shift, which is about looking at things that are already there in a different sort of way. Affordances are only easily perceived by those who grasp their meaning (Gibson, 1977, p. 67-69); those who don't simply perceive the same combinations of properties as noise (de Groot, 1965) because of their lack of context (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1980). However, Scarantino (2003) reassures us that "affordances are what they are independently of whether or not they are perceivable (some may not be), and independently of how they are eventually perceived (directly or indirectly)" (p. 954).

If we can see even the slightest edges of a few affordances, we can develop and clarify our perceptions simply by trying them out. Eleanor Gibson (wife to James) and Anne Pick describe a "perception-action reciprocity" in their book on infant development, wherein "perception guides action in accord with the environmental supports or impediments presented, and action in turn yields information for further guidance, resulting in a continuous perception-action cycle" (Gibson & Pick, 2003, p. 16). In other words, as you act, you get more information with which to act.

The affordance of perception

...of and inside boundaries (for peripheral participants)

RTR certainly comes with several affordances that are obvious. For instance, the word "transparency" strongly suggests perception itself as an affordance. What sort of perception? Certainly one that goes beyond the ordinary ability to look at things; since the Four Freedoms give you access to the components that make up the things (Stallman, 2012), you also have the ability to look inside them. After all, if it ain't public, it don't count. We could describe one aspect of this affordance as perception-inside-boundaries, and it is an affordance of radical transparency taken with respect to actors outside those boundaries -- in other words, peripheral observers.

The idea of perception-inside-boundaries sits both in direct accordance with the ideal of scientific practice and in direct contrast to the reality of it. As Becker (2001) points out, "...sometimes [researchers] do [accord a special status to the knowledge created by research], treating a result as definitive and 'blackboxing' it" (p. 323). Fields have historically been protective and self-preservational about their own boundaries. How do we tell us from not-us, things in our discipline from things outside it? For work that does fall within our discipline, what makes some "better" than others? You could call such a realization perception-of-boundaries, and it is also available to actors outside those boundaries.

...of and within boundaries (for full participants)

Perception-of-boundaries is also an affordance with respect to full participants situated within those boundaries. In Becker's view, the gatekeepers of boundary-making terminology such as "research" have a vested interest in "keeping unworthy pretenders from successfully appropriating [the term]" (p. 318). The field of engineering education research is fortunate to have gatekeepers who are cognizant of the power of boundaries to both illumniate and occlude, a sort of perception-within-boundaries.

One of the five interrelated strands of foundational engineering education research suggested by the National Engineering Education Research Colloquies in 2006 is the articulation of "what constitutes engineering thinking and knowledge within social contexts now and into the future" (p. 259), which I see as a usage of their power to assist with, rather than exclude the possibility of, perception-inside-boundaries. This area of "engineering epistemologies" also includes an investigation of "the mechanisms by which these defining elements change over time," (p. 260) which can be thought of as paradigm-shifting, a highly-valued research activity. It thus becomes increasingly important to shift the idea of "paradigm shifting" itself and to bring ideas -- and people -- into "research" that were not inside its boundaries before (Nielsen, 1991, p. 23). Taking advantage of the affordance of perception allows a much larger "us" to transform current engineering education practice by defining what it is and who's "inside" it.

... across boundaries (for all participants)

Following the pattern of pushing to upstream reveals another type of perceptual affordance, that of perception-across-boundaries. When we push to upstream, we are really following evolving threads of questions and ideas as opposed to prescribed and socially-constructed boundaries. We thus often end up pushing ideas across those boundaries as a happy side effect, allowing more and more people to partake in a perception-across-boundaries of both our ideas and artifacts and the histories of the thoughts and components that compose them.

To give a concrete example, I am currently blogging on a forum frequented by hearing aid users with technological backgrounds. If I hear a question about hearing aid technologies on the forums, I try to get it answered in the audiology department, then follow the pattern of pushing to upstream by relaying the answers back to the forums. Through this engagement, the participating audiology students come to see themselves as participating in "engineering education"; although they are not being trained as practicing engineers, questions and comments from the forums point out that they are certainly receiving training in engineering. The users in the forums also find themselves engaged in "engineering education" as contributors to the engineering training of the audiology students. Neither group's activities had previously been considered "engineering education" either by external observers or by themselves, but they are starting to be able to give that social construction of identity (Pawley, 2009) to each other, a gift enabled by their newfound ability to perceive the activities of the other group in even the limited and intermittent manner afforded by the liveblogging of a single overworked graduate student.

... as a force of legitimization and dissemination (for expert participants)

The affordance of perception, when taken in respect to experts, creates legitimization. The requirements for becoming an "official" engineering educator at the undergraduate level also high; instructors must survive both undergraduate and graduate school in engineering and prove their competence in research in order to be allowed to teach practice (Miller, 2011). Of course, there are many people in engineering communities of practice who act as mentors to novice engineers coming into their communities, but we generally don't recognize them as "real engineering educators," meaning that their efforts in educating engineers go uncounted. For that matter, the efforts of "official" engineering educators to educate engineers largely go uncounted, especially in top-tier institutions where evaluations for promotion and tenure hinge on research rather than teaching.

Since it has historically been engineering educators who enter engineering education research, we end up with a field where the average prior experience upon entry is undergraduate and graduate work in engineering followed by the development of skills in STEM research sufficient to earn a faculty position (and possibly tenure) in an enginering department -- all prerequisites for many people before they're allowed to develop and utilize education research skills (which are vastly different from STEM research skills) with both safety and recognition. By this time it's often difficult to teach old dogs to do new tricks (Streveler & Smith, 2006). This is absurd, and I'm glad for the engineering education programs that have sprung up in the last decade in a direct attempt to counter that pattern.

When we engage in radically transparent research, we let it be known that "real engineering education researchers" are watching a space, which adds legitimacy to that space and the experts within it with very little additional time investment needed on their part. Furthermore, we make it increasingly possible for other experts with very little available time to exercise the affordance of perception and watch alongside us. When Borrego, Froyd, and Hall (2010) examined innovation diffusion in engineering education, they found word of mouth to be the most common way of spreading ideas about teaching among engineering department chairs; Fincher et al. (2012) also found this to be true for the spread of teaching practice transformations among engineering educators themselves.

If you further extend the affordance of perception to those without a lengthy list of expensive credentials, the combination of all these many types of watchers enables verification, legitimization, and dissemination of engineering education research both within and beyond the academy. The gap between engineering education research, engineering education practice, and engineering practice begins to close and blur -- and in fact, for the remainder of this paper, we will consider all three of these to be a combined domain joined by the affordance of perception-across-boundaries, as they have the potential to be with the addition of practices of transparency.

...of comprehensible conversation (for novice participants)

However, RTR isn't just about transparency; it's about realtime transparency. The realtime nature of this discourse exposure means that the discourse begins to resemble a conversational exchange rather than a series of unresponsive monologues. Since information is being released early and often, the stigmergic contributions described by Elliott (2007) build upon each other, and even isolated individuals working asynchronously (Howison, 2008) are able to participate in sense-making collaborations (Efimova, 2009).

The speed of discourse has an interesting side effect on the nature of the language used within it. As an example, those who have been following my blogging on this Readiness Assessment may note that my language in spontaneous blog posts is far more casual and less dense than the text that appears in this final and more scholarly document, though I am deliberately trying to keep it from becoming too mired in academic prose through the use of first-person speech and occasional asides like this one. Becker (2001) writes about the importance of using language that is "not just the high church version trotted out on formal occasions but the language of daily work as well," letting the ordinary people "who actually do the work" actually "speak for the science" (p. 323). It's not just conversation that the combination of transparent and realtime properties affords; it's comprehensibility. After all, more eyeballs only make bugs shallow if those eyeballs understand the conversation going on about the bug -- so the affordance of perception of comprehensible conversation becomes particularly salient taken in respect to novices in the domain.

When the conversation becomes radically transparent, we all become simultaneuosly "ordinary" people and "eminent" ones; we blend our languages and ways of speaking. In the course of this play, we become conscious of the languages we speak and which ones we honor above others in what circumstances. As in the example with audiology students mentioned in the previous section, we often end up validating common motion and common speech, making those who think they're in the formal "upper room" listen to voices that are usually invisible and swept under the rug, or as Mishler (1986) points out, modified in translation into a more scholarly format (p. 35-51). By enforcing the pattern of if it ain't public, it don't count, comprehensible conversations become perceivable by a broader spectrum of people who thus become potential legitimate participants in the engineering education community of practice as they gain knowledge of how to talk and be silent in the manner of full participants (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 105).

When I explain radical transparency to others, I frequently refer to the work of creative disciplines such as engineering as involving a rich and delightfully messy discourse situated in the midst of conversations between teammates and technology, components, codes, analysis, and constraints. I also draw comparisons to language learning, noting that we generally recognize that memorizing vocabulary words or reading tourist guides will not give language students the ability to engage in "real conversation." And what is "real conversation?" It's a mess. The first time I visited Germany, I spent my long flights en route to Hannover by way of Chiang Mai (not a recommended itinerary, by the way) dutifully sticking the contents of an introductory grammar and phrasebook in my short-term memory, only to discover that German families don't actually say the phrases found in the back of my pocket dictionary. We have slang, sentence fragments, backtracks, mistakes, and -- thankfully -- facial expressions and physical gestures, which were what ended up saving me. Linguistically, I was a helpless novice, rigidly dependent on taught rules and plans (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1980) that ended up not being a useful model of reality.

How many engineering students end up in the same situation? We already know that pre-college students have no idea what the field of engineering entails (National Academy of Engineering, 2008), but one would hope that students that elect to enroll in the field would be somewhat better off by the time they approach program completion. According to the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition (1980), my difficulty as a German-speaking novice was largely due to an inability to deal with context. This was forgivable; there's only so much that 20 hours of in-flight time with a book can do. However, engineering has historically been an intensive college major; back in 1918, Charles Mann pleaded for a reduction in courseload, noting that it was "absurd to require from the student more hours of intense mental labor than would be permitted him by law at the simplest manual labor" (p.257). Nearly a century later, the National Survey of Student Engagement (2011) still found engineering students to be hard workers, with 42% of seniors reporting that they spent over 20 hours per week preparing for class, the highest of any academic major (p. 16). Adding an extremely conservative estimate of 10 hours per week spent in engineering classes and multiplying across 8 semesters of 16 weeks apiece gives us 3,840 hours devoted to engineering learning, 192 times longer than my in-flight cram-fest. Furthermore, these hours often come with with scaffolding and expert mentorship. If it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve expertise in a field (Ericson & Charness, 1994), we would expect at least some of those 42% of senior engineering undergraduates to be about 38.4% of the way there in their ability to deal with context.

That's why it's so disturbing that a longitudinal study by Atman et al (2010) of 160 engineering undergraduates on four campuses over four years found that those four years did not increase students' abilities to consider broad context in design (p. 63) and that most were still uncertain about what it meant to be an engineer, even if 80% were planning to seek employment in the field (p. 71). I was struggling to understand spoken German because it was my first exposure to authentic conversations in that language. Could the difficulties of engineering students with open-ended, real-world problems in the workplace (Atman et al, 2010, p. 71-72) be due to the same thing -- a lack of exposure to "real engineering conversations" they can understand?

Access to comprehensible conversations has implications that go far behond the development of engineering disciplinary knowledge, which is only one of three components of engineering learning articulated by Stevens (2008). The other two, equally important, components of engineering learning are "engineering identity" and the navigational journey taken to develop it (p. 355-368). Mishler (1986) notes that when original "speech acts" are preserved in all their subtlety, informality, and messiness, observers are able to access vicarious experiences of "people like me doing that thing," which Bandura (1986) found was the second most influential factor in the development of self-efficacy, or the belief that "I myself could do that thing" (p. 399-408). Indeed, engineering identity -- whose development we briefly touched upon in the previous section on the affordance of perception -- is part of another major area of engineering education research identified by the National Engineering Education Research Colloquies in 1996, that of "engineering learning mechanisms," specifically "the learning progressions of learners and their educational experiences that develop this knowledge and identity necessary to be an engineer" (p. 260).

...of one's own actions in the form of modeling (for expert participants)

The comprehensible conversations overheard by novices are also actions of modeling being carried out by experts. Modeling is one technique of teaching within Cognitive Apprenticeship theory, which was developed by Collins, Brown, and Newman (1987) to extend the principles of traditional craft apprenticeships to cognitive fields such as engineering and research. Cognitive apprenticeship is not a model of teaching that gives teachers a packaged formula for instruction. Instead, it is an instructional paradigm for teaching (Collins et al., 1991, p. 17) that helps us understand how learning happens regardless of what teaching methodology is used (Lave and Wenger, 1991, p. 40), including "er, I wasn't even thinking of this as teaching in the first place."

Modeling involves the performance of a task by an expert such that novices who perceive it can build their own conceptual models of the processes required to accomplish that same task. In cognitive domains, this requires the externalization of usually internal processes and activities (Collins et al., 1991, p.13). Such an externalization is typically a separate process that experts need to be trained in, since they have since relinquished any reliance on rules and guidelines and have an intuitive grasp of how to navigate their context (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1980). However, in a radically transparent context, the pattern of if it ain't public it don't count means that all legitimate actions and their resulting artifacts are recorded examples of modeling that can be accessed in perpetuity.

When taken in respect to expert practitioners in a domain, the affordance of perceiving one's own expertise increases their ability to know and monitor their activities and that of others in the field. Their metacognitive skill increases as they become more conscious of learning processes in their domain (Flavell, 1979), and experts come to percieve themselves as mentors and teachers as well as expert practitioners. Of course, metacognitive gains can be made by novices learning in the space as well -- but in a different way, as we shall see shortly.

The affordance of lurking

... as a developer of metacognitive skills (for novice participants)

The affordance of lurking arises from the distinction between the affordance of perception and the affordance of participation; this affordance is a vital one and the reason it's called radically transparent research and not radically participatory research. Gibson (1977) uses an analogy to explain the difference: a glass pane affords perception but not [locomotive] participation, whereas a cloth curtain affords participation but not perception (p. 74). Watching television shows like Design Squad can be thought of as an engineering education example of the glass pane; you can see, but you can't touch. Filling out teaching evaluations for an engineering class is like the cloth curtain; you've thrown data into the aether, but have no idea if it will end up affecting anything.

When we separate perception from participation and incorporate the affordance of concealment, we open up the affordance of lurking, a form of concealment which may seem like the opposite of our first affordance of perception (Gibson, 1977, p. 73) but can also be described as a particular sub-variant of it. When you are concealed, you do not offer the affordance of perception to others, but you can still exercise your ability to perceive them. We call this behavior lurking, and it is a valid activity in a community that practices radical transparency. Communities of practice need balance and interrelation between public and private spaces in order to be successful (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002, p. 58-59).

Since cognitive apprenticeships work to "make thinking visible" so that novices "are able to see the process of work" (Collins et al., 1991, p. 1), novices are able to build their metacognitive skills by observing experts build and articulate their own self-monitoring procedures. Through lurking, novices get a chance to build conceptual models of tasks and interpetative structures for making sense of the feedback they will get before attempting the tasks or receiving the feedback, which gives them an opportunity to develop their autonomous reflection skills (Collins et al., 1987, p. 5). They also learn "...who is involved [in a community of practice]; what they do; what everyday life is like; how masters talk, walk, work, and generally conduct their lives; how people who are not part of the community of practice interact with it; what other learners are doing; and what learners need to learn to become full practitioners. It includes an increasing understanding of how, when, and about what old-times collaborate, collude, and collide, and what they enjoy, dislike, respect, and admire" (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 95). a cost reducer (for peripheral novice participants)

You may have noticed that all these benefits are available to novices engaging in full participation: those who don't lurk, those who participate as well as percieve, those who make themselves visible. So what's the big deal? The answer is that participation and visibility can be a costly endeavor, and if people need to participate and be perceived in order to percieve activity in a domain, they will sometimes opt not to watch at all.

Engineering is currently a field with a high entrance cost precisely because it does not separate the affordance of perception from the affordance of participation; we don't allow people to watch without "putting skin in the game," so to speak. If we take the undergraduate engineering experience as being the primary "game" to get "admission" to, an introductory-level ticket is 3,840 grueling hours of one's life plus far more dollars for tuition. With such a high initial time and monetary investment needed to "try out" the field, we shouldn't be surprised that very few people are particulary inclined to do so, especially with the additional emotional investment needed to cope with the knowledge that "failure" means the high-visibility action of dropping out.

Some novices from underrepresented groups carry the additional cost of stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995), meaning that visibility of their group membership may call attention to the fact that they aren't "supposed" to do well, which is likely to make them actually perform less well. This cost doesn't even count the effort needed prior to college to meet engineering entrance requirements. The statistics for that are even more dismal; today's average high school graduate has chosen to take fewer than two credits of advanced math or science, and only 35% graduate having taken pre-calculus (National Science Board, 2012), making the "comprehensible" part of "comprehensible conversations" a very tricky one to pull off indeed.

Decoupling participation from perception and allowing for the usage of the affordance of concealment allows more people to afford the affordance of perception. At the same time, lurking is also an acknowledgement that perception is "an evolving form of membership" (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 53) and itself a form of participation. To understanding lurking as an affordance is to embrace a dialetical tension, a way of being in two contradictory places at once (Nielsen, 1991, p. 25-26) -- perception is both participation and separate from participation. Specifically, lurking is a form of legitimate peripheral participation, a term used to refer to participation in the "actual process of an expert [in a community of practice], but only to a limited degree and with limited responsibility for the ultimate product as a whole" (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 14). To be even more specific, lurking is the form of legitimate peripheral participation where the processes in question are metacognitive in nature and the responsibility for the ultimate product is nil. It is the lowest-cost, lowest-risk way possible to engage with a domain. a motivational factor (for novice participants)

Although Lave and Wenger (1991) did not use the term "lurking" in their work on cognitive apprenticeships, they nevertheless described the mechanism of lurking when they said that its purpose was "...not to learn from talk as a substitute for legitimate peripheral participation," but rather "to learn to talk as a key to legitimate peripheral participation" (p. 109).

Lurking helps new participants gain an ability to converse -- but it also helps them gain the desire to do so. When Edward Deci wrote a book (1996) summarizing his research with Richard Ryan on self-determination theory, he explained that autonomy is a key prerequisite for intrinsic motivation -- you can't be intrinsically motivated about something unless you feel like it's your choice to do it. Individual learners differ in the experiences they need in order to develop self-efficacy, or the belief that they can launch in and be successful; one person might need more vicarious experiences or verbal persuasion (pep talks) than another before they're able to launch into actual successful performance, the strongest self-efficacy builder of all (Bandura, 1986).

Where do these vicarious experiences and pep talks for encouraging learners come from? In cognitive apprenticeships like the ones present in radically transparent communities, they come from "access to a wide range of ongoing activity, old-timers, and other members of the community; and to information, resources, and opportunities for participation" (Lave & Wenger, 1991, p. 100-101). A community of practice is full of practitioners at all different stages along the journey of learning, affording participants the opportunity to simultaneously be mentor and mentee in a complex web of interrelations (p. 56-57). "Since members are visible participants in the target skills... learners have continual access to models of expertise-in-use" (Collins et al., 1987, p. 5). Seeing multiple models of expertise and other learners at different stages in the process encourages students to see learning as a series of incremental stages (Collins et al., 1991, p. 2). This in turn can encourage them to develop a growth mindset, the notion that abilities can be developed through training as opposed to being fixed and innate (Dweck, 2006).

The affordance of lurking is a permanently present one; it is okay for participants to conceal themselves as long as they like, and to drop from visibility back into lurking at any point in time, and both experts and novices can move fluidly in and out of being in full or peripheral participation (Wenger, 1998). The existence of lurking as an affordance is one of the main factors that creates the safety cushion in the original comic image.

The affordance of messing up

The other affordance that creates the safety cushion is one of the more surprising ones offered by radical transparency: acceptable failure. This is a direct outgrowth of the pattern of cheap and reversible mistakes; the cheaper and more reversible failures are, the more acceptable they become. Individuals with a growth mindset are more likely to see failure as an opportunity for learning, and communities can nurture such a mindset in their participants by celebrating effort and learning from mistakes (Dweck, 2006). I am discussing this affordance with respect to all four quadrants of participation at once because cognitive apprenticeship theory celebrates the idea of novice-as-expert (Collins et al., 1991, p. 17). This is another dialectical tension that goes beyond the idea that "everyone is an expert at some things and a novice at others" to encompass concepts like the "expert novice." Diana Kimball, who runs a consultancy by that name, describes the idea as follows (2012): "Just as every good book needs a first reader, every project needs a first user... that perspective is what Expert Novice aims to offer."

Regardless of what your expertise is in (including novicehood), Collins et al. (1987) points out that mistake-making is part of the expert process, and that realistic depictions of expert performance must include "struggles, false starts, discouragement, and the like" (p.12). The affordance of perception is instrumental here as well in helping participants "realize that thrashing is neither unique to them nor a sign of incompetence" (Collins et al., 1991, p. 11). So long as we "hold naive beliefs about the nature of expert [performance], thinking that [the task] is a smooth and easy process for 'good'[performers]" (Collins et al., 1991, p. 11), we will not allow ourselves to fail nor learn from failure: experts out of fear that they will no longer be considered experts, novices out of fear that they will never transition to becoming experts, peripheral participants out of fear that their participation will no longer be validated but instead dismissed.