College Seminar I
Bryn Mawr College
Fall 2005

Questions, Intuitions, Revisions:
Storytelling as Inquiry

Anne Dalke (English House, ext. 5308,
Paul Grobstein (Park Science Building, ext. 5098,

Paper Assignment #3: On Tacit Knowing

Image from Sharon Burgmayer,

Our sequence of drafts for Paper #3 derives from Michael Polyani's claim in The Tacit Dimension that

Tacit knowing is shown to account

  1. for a valid knowledge of a problem,
  2. for the scientist's capacity to pursue it, guided by [her] sense of approaching its solution, and
  3. for a valid anticipation of the yet indeterminate implications of the discovery arrived at in the end. (24)
Each of Polyani's stages marks a draft in your writing process.

  1. On Tuesday, October 25th, please bring to class a written record of data you have collected on tacit understanding; we will conduct a workshop on the material you have gathered. There are a wide range of forums where you can make these observations. For instance, three exhibits on Serendip invite you to do precisely that:

    You'll find "Time to Think" @

    "Seeing More than your Eye Does" @

    "The Three Doors of Serendip @

    and "Test Yourself for Hidden Bias" @

    Alternatively, you may want to conduct your own experiment, making observations of how you see yourself--or preferably, others--using tacit knowledge; you might also find it very productive to conduct two different experiments/gather two different sets of comparable data in which you have observed tacit knowledge being used.

  2. On Tuesday, November 1st, please bring to class a draft in which you interpret the observations you have made: what story, what theory most fruitfully describes the data you have collected? We will conduct a writing workshop on several of these.

  3. On Tuesday, November 9th, please bring to class the third draft of this paper, in which you not only present and interpret your data, but also identify what new questions your explanatory theory raises. What new experiment need you now design, to elicit a further set of observations?

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