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Lecture 8

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McGill University
PSYC 471
Richard Koestner

PSYC 471 Lecture # 8 The Relevance of Research on Expertise to Our Everyday Lives Ericsson: basic argument would be that innate talent plays no role in whether we will achieve high levels of expertise • Provides evidence that it takes 10,000 hours or 10 years to become an expert Questions of the day: • Why do we sometimes fail to keep developing our expertise, despite active involvement in a domain? How can someone play golf for 25 years and not get any better? • How relevant is Ericsson and Charness’theory to our everyday lives? Objectives: • To understand what deliberate practice is and why it is so important in the acquisition of expert performance • To see how Ericsson and Charness theory may be relevant to our mostly non-expert lives Koestner’s Basketball Peak and Plateau : • As a kid his flow activity was basketball • Started playing at age 7 th • Made team in 4 grade • He would fantasize about being a super basketball player • For his age, he was best player in his neighbourhood • Tried out for freshman high school team (more difficult because now competing against students from all over NY) • He was only the 5 best player on the team • He reached the highest point of his basketball skills as a 14 year old • He feels he went downhill after that and stopped playing at the age of 20 • In his freshman year, he was on a good team, but because they we're freshman's they weren't able to practice in the main gym. Because the varsity would practice there • Only allowed to play in basement where they didn't even have nets. • Coach was very tough and made them do a lot of drills, at first he didn't enjoy it but then starting liking it because he felt like he was in incredible shape • Played a game against St Brigit's and he dominated. The 2 best players on other team got into argument as to who was responsible for letting him score all those points (Shake and bake). • I thought he reached a new level and he would continue to improve. • But about 3 of the guys on his team left the school, and then the next year they were a bad team and had a different coach, then in varsity they had an even worse team • He had a sense of stagnation and then regression • By the time he was a senior he knew kids who weren't on the team and were better than him. • Wanted to figure out why he got stuck: He though he hit the ceiling of his talent, he went as far as his abilities would take him. ◦ But could also be something about motivation, effort and practice but he didn't think that. Koestner’s Golf History • Took up golf at 11 years old and played at city golf course • By the time he was 15 or 16 he was shooting around 88 • But then at age of 15 when he kept playing, his score didn’t go down any further, same at 17 all the way until he was 36 • All of you perform in various disciplines and sometimes we hit performance plateau, but I thought that being stranded for 25 years on a performance plateau was really pretty exceptional • It didn’t make sense to him, he was getting more experienced playing golf year after year because he’d play 50-70 times a summer, so how come his score wouldn’t improve? ◦ Possible that he's not an effective self regulator...but that's not the issue because he's interested in feedback and improving ◦ Possible that he doesn’t have talent for golf...maybe it is limited and he went as far as he could, and he's only shooting 88 25 years later because its all his natural talent would allow • In all of our lives, there are certain things we didn’t get better at and when we stop to think about why, we probably concluded “you know i don’t have the talent in this area even though i first thought i did” ◦ Ericsson and Charness said you should stop before this conclusion Types of experience: • Deliberate practice: individualized training on tasks selected by a qualified teacher ◦ This training mostly involves drills, focus on improving specific skills, coach watches you. ◦ To do this well you have to monitor your performance and make adjustment, because the focus is on improving skills and doing things well. ◦ It takes a lot of mental and physical energy and we could only do it for so long ◦ Ericsson thinks we can only do it for an hour at a time and we probably have a maximum of 4 hours a day • Play: primary goal is the inherent enjoyment of the activity ◦ once we have adequate skills in the domain what we want to do is play ◦ Play is just to enjoy the activity; surveys of leisure activities say they will do some deliberate practice when beginning the new activity but only enough so theyre comfortable and see themselves enjoying playing it ◦ Ericsson and Charness say that play results in almost no improvement • Work: public performances, competitions or other performance motivated by money ◦ Playing a game in a structured league where you need to win ◦ There is some extrinsic motivation ◦ Trying to reliably reproduce a hihg quality performance, you don't try out new things in competitions and you don't try to develop skills *Ericsson and Charness would say of these three, the only thing that would lead to improved performance is deliberate practice; it is repetitive, focused on skill improvement, effortful (really monitoring how you're doing) *There’s actually a fourth called observation that Ericsson speaks of. In all sports now, it is common to videotape and then view them as a training device. Suggests it can be used like deliberate practice and actually augment it. • We may naturally assume that we would get better by just playing...but it isn’t the case (I thought as a golfer I’d improve after 25 years of experience, but Ericsson’s theory is challenging and provocative because it suggests the only experience that counts is that with deliberate practice, only will that allow you to acquire complex skills needed to improve performance) • These 3 kinds of activities differ in their goals, their course, their rewards and they differ in how likely we are to do them ◦ Goal of deliberate practice is improving your skills ◦ Goal for playing is enjoyment ◦ Goal for work is something extrinsic (winning the game) but usually relies on entrenched methods ◦ The course of deliberate practice is effortful, difficult, its a struggle ◦ Very little course in play and people enjoy it ◦ People also approach work/competitions very willingly ◦ Reward of deliberate practice is that you actually get better. ◦ Reward of play is enjoyment ◦ Reward of competition is enjoyment but also being payed Example: deliberate practice as a psychotherapist, record session and ask supervisor to analyze (why did you ask this here, why didn’t you listen here, what do you think would have happened then etc.) Basic fact: • In most domains years of experience with an activity is only weakly related to level of performance • For example: downhill skiing, if you would judge levels of skiing performance and asked them how many years have you been skiing, and did correlation between level of performance and years of skiing Ericsson would say you'd find a weak/positive correlation at best, or no correlation.And after first year most people don’t get any more instruction/don’t do any more deliberate practice, just ski because it is highly enjoyable. If you really care about skill improvement then you need to adhere to regimen of practice ◦ Critical question is how many years of deliberate practice have you done? This is what differentiates who can ski well vs. Who can't • In many occupations you can find evidence that there's nothing between years of experience and expertise. ◦ Accountant: they found that there was a zero correlation between skill on a standardized test and years being in accounting. ▪ When we are studying to be an accountant we train and do deliberate practice. Once we get our job we continue to learn and monitor our performance until we have our evaluation and are told you can keep this job. ◦ Psychotherapist: outcome studies suggest almost a zero correlation between years of experience and outcomes your patients have. ◦ Medical doctor: someone who has 2 years experience after getting medical degree is better than someone who just finished medical school. But someone who has 25 years experience doesn't seem to be better than the one who has 2 years experience • We do enough training to get the job and keep it but once we're comfortable in a career track we probably don’t do any additional deliberate practice. Generally we expect we’ll do better just by doing activity as a job, or get better at sport just by playing it but Ericsson and Charness would say we’re probably wrong with that. Ericsson: the dilemma we often face is that we will abandon the deliberate practice once we become adequate, once we have a job, once we've made the team. *Although deliberate practice in effortful and difficult there are some people who have a special ability to do this and enjoy it. This is a really valuable thing, they can turn it into a flow activity. Who we model at golf First ex was golfing, and it turns out that golf became popular when tiger woods burst on the screen (captivating presence, emotional and dynamic) and suddenly everyone wanted to take up golf • Started building more golf courses, but they found many beginners would take up sport for 2 years and then quit. Reason was because they said well i liked it, took some lessons, but its too hard I am not getting better/i am not good at this game • Golfers often do the wrong deliberate driving range, there's a wide open field, and most people get a big bucket of balls and bring biggest and strongest club and you try to send the ball as far as possible but it turns out this is the least effective thing to be practising. It's more useful to work on the part of the game where you're closer to the green, doing more putting and chipping and pitching ◦ when we practice were trying to capture the magic because we want to be like tiger woods and hit it as far as possible Why is deliberate practice so important? 1) There must be a goal to attend to the task and improve performance 2) We learn best when there is explicit instructions about best methods of improvement 3) We learn best with immediate feedback on one’s performance 4) We learn best when repeatedly performs the same or similar tasks (makes it become automatic, wired to do it) *4 things reliably associated with improved learning (goal, instructions, feedback, repeat) • These 4 things are exactly what deliberate practice is designed to do ◦ Ex: Guitar lessons, music teacher. The teacher will work with you on drills, where there’s a specific goal of how to finger guitar, instructions of where to put two fingers, you get feedback right away if its right or wrong, and then asked to repeat it and practice during the week ▪ Deliberate practice instantiates 4 key principles of learning derived from hundreds years
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