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E

ORC 80.2 FEBRUARY 1980

A FIVE-STAGE MODEL OF THE MENTAL ACtITIES

INVOLVED INDIRECTED SKILL ACQUISITIONbySTUART E. DREYFUS and HUBERT L. DREYFUS

OPERATIONS RESEARCH CENTERNIVERSITY OF

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A FIVE-STAGE MODEL OF THE MENTAL ACTIVITIES INVOLVED IN DIRECTED SKILL ACQUISITION by Stuart E. Dreyfus Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research University of California, Berkeley and Department L. Dreyfus Hubert of Philosophy"-. University of California, Berkeley

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FEBRUARY 1980

ORC 80-2

This research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFSC), USAF, under Contract F49620-79-C-0063 with the University of California. Reproduction in whole or in part is permitted for any purpose of the United States Government.

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SkillCognition Situation Understanding20. ABSTRACT (Continue on reverse aide It necessary and identity by block number)

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ABSTRACT In acquiring a skill by means of instruction and experience, the student normally passes through five developmental stages which we designate novice, competence, proficiency, expertise and mastery. We argue, based on analysis of careful descriptions of skill acquisition, that as the student becomes skilled, he depends less on abstract principles and more on concrete experience. We systematize and illustrate the progressive changes in a performer's ways of seeing his task environment. We conclude that any skilltraining procedure must be based on some model of skill acquisition, so that it can address, at each stage of training, the appropriate issues involved in facilitating advancement.

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A FIVE-STAGE MODEL OF THE MENTAL ACTIVITIES INVOLVED IN DIRECTED SKILL ACQUISITION by Stuart E. Dreyfus and Hubert L. Dreyfus

I.

INTRODUCTION

Anyone who wishes to acquire faced with two options. imitation aid of an proach is activities, describe and floundering instructor far or He can,

a like

new skill a baby,

is

immediately up by seek the ap-

pick it

trial--and-error,

or he can manual.

instructional and in piloting,

The latter

more efficient, such as aircraft

the case of dangerous essential. skill We shall acquisi-

below our model of the normal directed

tion pcocess and illustrate our rather abstract characterization with examples from foreign language acquisition, and flight instruction. Our method consists in scriptions of changes in reported by performers in Sudnow [1], analyzing and systematizing de-chess learning,

the perception of the task environment the course of acquiring complex skills. has described in great

trained as an ethnographer,

detail the changing stages in the meaning and temporal organization of sound patterns in ability to improvise jazz. the course of his acquisition of the We have adapted these findings to the speaking a second lanlikely to be more [2] has re-

stages in the acquisition of facility in guage,

since this form of skill acquisition is

familiar to the reader.

The psychologist De Groot

ported on the changing way the chess array is ginners and experienced players.

perceived by be-

In our illustrations of our

2

model with respect to flying, we have relied on pilot interviews and instructional manuals. This descriptive data, while precise and replicable, might

seem to lack the objectivity and quantifiability produced by controlled laboratory experiments. dition in However, there is a long tra-

psychology and philosophy of suspicion of the signifi-

cance of experimental results produced by restricting experiments to precisely controlled but highly artificial ists such as Kohler situations. Gestalt-

[3] and phenomenologists such as Merleau-Ponty

[4] have argued that research programs such as behaviorism and cognitivism which attempt to eliminate the everyday perceptual famili-

arity of the experimental situation reach their conclusion that perception and skills etc. are based on the lawlike combination of

elements precisely because they have eliminated the contextual significance, based on past experience, Moreover, which makes other forms

of response possible.

recent research on judges setting [5] has shown that even the simple taking part in behavior. a psycholoIn labor-

bail and pronouncing sentences

fact of the subject knowing that he is

gical experiment produces a marked change in atory settings,

actual judges operated according to the recommended Unobstru-

rules of procedure found in various published guidelines. sively observed in

the naturalistic courtroom setting, however, relyring heavily on Experience

these same judges behaved quite differently,

the recommendaticns of attorneys and probation officers. seems to have ta'ight the judges to trust experts, rules.

rather than apply

Concerning scientific laboratory observation as a means of Konecni and Ebbesen conclude

studying real-world behavior,

3

"...

erroneous information obtained by scientific methods

(and

therefore having an aura of truth) is mation at all...

more harmful than no infor-

" [6].

Despite the intrinsic tendency of controlled experiments to produce behavior which masks the changes in skilled performance some indications

which takes place over long periods of experience,

of these changes have shown up even under these adverse conditions. Schneider and Shiffrin have distinguished controlled processing-a temporary activation of a sequence of elements that can be set up quickly and easily but requires attention is (usually serial in nature) and is capacity limited

controlled by the subject--from initiated by ap-

automatic processing--a learned sequence that is

propriate inputs and then proceeds automatically without stressing the capacity liMitations of the system, manding attention. They conclude, and without necessarily de-

based on experimental evidence "In

involving very simple detection, novel situations or in cisions,

search and attention tasks,

situations requiring moment-to-moment de-

controlled processing may be adopted and usee to perform though slowly. Then, as the situations become familiar, automaother

accurately,

always requiring the same sequence of processing operations, tic processing will develop, attention demands will be eased,

controlled operations can be carried out in matic processing,

parallel with the auto[7].

and performance will improve"

One further interesting recent result of laboratory research is the unexpected discovery that when the same task can be described and alternatively as a familiar

as a sequence of formal operations,

4

concrete problem, when he is

the subject's behavior dramatically improves a concrete everyday form. An

presented the task in

abstract logical task involving a conditional rule was studied extensively by Wason in 1966. Here is one example of the problem

Wason studied and his results: "You are presented with four cards showing, respectively, 'A', 'D', '4', '7', and you know from previous experience that every card, of which these are a subset, has a letter You are then on one side and a number on the other side. 'If given this rule about the four cards in front of yout a card has a vowel on one side, then it has an even number on the other side.' 'Your task is to say which of the Next you are told: cards you need to turn over in order to find out whether the rule is true or false.' The most frequent a