Events

The Greeks used the concept, techne, to refer to crafts and skills that were associated with creation of reliably superior products. Later on this concept was extended to include categories of less reliable performance in law and medicine. Subsequent efforts to develop expertise promoted extended experience, acquisition of knowledge, general ability (talent) and advanced schooling. Consistent with this general view it is often assumed that 10 years of professional experience changes people into experts. Recent research on expertise, however, is showing that most forms of experience, such as work, play, and social interactions, have surprisingly limited effects on improvement of performance. When experts’ performance is measured objectively, we find only limited improvement of performance as a function of increased experience. In fact, some professionals’ performance can even decrease with increased amount of experience. In stark contrast, research on the acquisition of expert performance demonstrates that focused appropriate training activities--deliberate practice--can lead to dramatic cumulative increases in performance and even change the most physical characteristics of the human body and brain with some exceptions, such as body size and height. In my talk I will discuss recent evidence on the effects of specific practice activities on objective performance and propose how everyday learning phenomena in schools, universities and the professions may be captured and analyzed in the laboratory and how findings about effective learning can be translated back into improved training environments that permit individuals to more effectively improve their performance in the original settings.