July 18, 2011

25 Quotes about Expertise and Expert Performance

At last I have read The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance by Anders Ericsson, Neil Charness, Paul Feltovich, and Robert Hoffman (Eds.). This handbook brings together leading researchers on the topic of expertise and expertise development. This field of research, which is only about 35 years old, has debunked traditional views of how elite performance is achieved and maintained. In particular, it has shown the lack of evidence for the importance of natural talents and the existence of evidence for the critical importance of many years of deliberate practice. Here are ten quotes from the book.
  1. "Becoming an expert in almost anything requires literally years of work. People will do this only if they have some initial success, enjoy the work, and are supported by the social climate. Expertise is not solely a cognitive affair." ~ Earl Hunt, p36
  2. "People hardly ever reach an elite level in more than a single domain of activity." ~Paul Fletovich, Michael Prietula, and Anders Ericsson, p47
  3. "There is little transfer from high-level proficiency in one domain to proficiency in other domains - even when the domains seem, intuitively, very similar." ~Paul Fletovich, Michael Prietula, and Anders Ericsson, p47
  4. "Experts see and represent a problem in their domain at a deeper (more principled) level than novices." ~ Glaser and Chi (1988) quoted in Chapter 4, p50
  5. "Automaticity is central to the development of expertise, and practice is the means to automaticity [...] Through the act of practice (with appropriate feedback, monitoring, etc.), the character of cognitive operations changes in a manner that (a) improves the speed of the operations, (b) improves the smoothness of the operations, and (c) reduces the cognitive demands of the operations, this releasing cognitive (e.g. attentional) resources for other (often higher) functions (e.g. planning, self-monitoring)." ~Paul Fletovich, Michael Prietula, and Anders Ericsson, p53
  6. "Expertise is appropriately viewed not as simple (and often short-term) matter of fact or skill acquisition, but rather as a complex construct of adaptations of mind and body, which include substantial self-monitoring and control mechanisms, to task environments in service of representative task goals and activities." ~Paul Fletovich, Michael Prietula, and Anders Ericsson, p57
  7. "Extended focused practice has profound effects on, and can influence virtually every aspect of, the human body." ~Paul Fletovich, Michael Prietula, and Anders Ericsson, p59
  8. "For virtually any task, performance improves with practice." ~ Robert Proctor and Kim-Phuong Vu, p266
  9. "As Bloom once told a reporter: "We were looking for exceptional kids and what we found were exceptional conditions". [...] The "exceptional conditions" we found can be summarized under the headings of opportunity to learn, authentic tasks, and exceptionally supportive social contexts." ~ Lauren Sosniak, p289
  10. "What seems to be important in the home background is the knowledge of learning, and the value placed on it for its own sake, in terms of the enrichment of life, and not just for economic and social rewards." ~ Lauren Sosniak, p290
  11. "There is no evidence for abrupt improvements of reproducible performance when it is tested on a monthly or yearly basis [...]." ~ Anders Ericsson, p688
  12. Even for the most talented individuals, ten years of experience in a domain (ten year rule) is necessary to become and expert [...] A closer examination of the evidence shows that the number ten is not magical. In fact, the number of years of intense training required to become an internationally acclaimed performer differs across domains." ~ Anders Ericsson, p689
  13. "In virtually every aspect of human activity there have been increases in the efficiency and level of performance."~ Anders Ericsson, p690
  14. "The length of experience has been frequently found to be a weak correlate of job performance beyond the first two years.' ~ Anders Ericsson, p691
  15. "Elite performers are typically introduced to their realm of excellence in a playful manner at a young age."~ Anders Ericsson, p691
  16. "Effective improvement of performance requires the opportunity to find suitable training tasks that the performer can master sequentially - typically the design of training tasks and monitoring of the attained performance is one by a teacher or a coach. Deliberate practice presents performers with tasks that are initially outside their current realm of reliable performance, yet can be mastered within hours of practice by concentrating on critical aspects and by gradually refining performance through repetitions after feedback."~ Anders Ericsson, p692
  17. "Even the well-known fact that more "talented" children improve faster in the beginning of their music development appears to be in large part due to the fact that they spend more time in deliberate practice each week." ~ Anders Ericsson, p692
  18. "When the behaviors are automized, mere additional experience will not lead to increased levels of performance." ~ Anders Ericsson, p694
  19. "The key challenge for aspiring expert performers is to avoid the arrested development associated with automaticity and to acquire cognitive skills to support their continued learning and improvement. By actively seeking out demanding tasks -often provided by teachers and coaches - that force the performers to engage in problem solving and to stretch their performance, the expert performers overcome the detrimental effects of automaticity and actively acquire and refine cognitive mechanisms to support continued learning and improvement."~ Anders Ericsson, p694
  20. "The performers will gradually acquire mechanisms that increase their ability to control, self-monitor, and evaluate their performance in representative situations from the domain and thus gain independence from the feedback of their teachers." ~ Anders Ericsson, p694
  21. "Continued attempts for mastery require that the performer always try, by stretching performance beyond its current capabilities, to correct some specific weakness, while preserving other successful aspects of function."~ Anders Ericsson, p698
  22. "Engagement in study methods consistent with deliberate practice has been found to predict achievement in both undergraduate college students as well as in students in medical school." ~ Anders Ericsson, p699
  23. "Age related reductions in music performance [..] can be counteracted by maintained levels of deliberate practice."~ Anders Ericsson, p699
  24. "Until most individuals recognize that sustained training and effort is a prerequisite for reaching expert levels of performance, they will continue to misattribute lesser achievement to the lack of natural gifts, and will thus fail to reach their own potential." ~ Anders Ericsson, p699
  25. "At the highest levels of expert performance, the drive for improvement will always involve search and experimentation at the threshold of understanding, even for the masters dedicated to redefining the meaning of excellence in their fields." ~ Anders Ericsson, p700
Also read: The word 'talent'


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