This article summarizes 9 of the famous models of training from research to explore if expertise can be accelerated.
Accelerated expertise has been talk-of-the-town in the academic circle lately. Now the business world has started seeing the need for the expertise of their employees to be accelerated. In general, building expertise takes a long time. In previous posts, I tried to review the research perspective on stages one travels during his or her journey towards expertise acquisition. See posts: Mastery Demystified: How Do the Skills of a Novice Develop into Mastery? Demystifying Stages in Novice to Expert Transition: 7 Models from Research and 7 Phases of Development of A Newbie To Become An Expert and Beyond. Further, I explored several promising models and approaches to building the expertise of people. See the post: 5 Training Guidelines for Skill Acquisition Towards Unconscious Competence. Several researchers established the possibility to produce professionals at a higher level of proficiency using some special training strategies. But that stays as the possibility to large extent. There is a lack of any comprehensive mechanism for accelerating the proficiency either through training or otherwise which instructional designers, training strategists, or training experts could use off-the-shelf and apply in an organizational context.
As stated by Hoffman, Andrews & Feltovich (2012), “Empirical fact about expertise (i.e., that it takes a long time) sets the stage for an effort at demonstrating the acceleration of the achievement of proficiency.” (p. 9).
Some famous models do attempt to provide “some” insight into how training can be used to build a certain level of proficiency of employees and accelerate it. I thought I summarize various models from the angle of how expertise development and acceleration of expertise.
Bloom’s Mastery Learning Model (1968)
The educational theorist Carroll (1963) provided the first complete model of attaining proficiency in her “Mastery learning model”. She challenged traditional educational philosophy stating that ‘the learner will succeed in learning a given task to the extent that he spends the time that he needs to learn the task’ (p. 725). Carroll used certain factors like aptitude, or time needed to learn the task under ideal instruction, ability to understand instruction, perseverance, and external conditions like the time allowed for learning, and the quality of instruction. He speculated that the majority of learners will be successful in gaining mastery in learning by a suitable combination of these factors and systematically maximizing the time allowed for learning.
Boom further extended this theory and has been mostly known by his name. The experiment conducted by Blooms (1968) argued that with a proper condition of learning and time given to learners almost all learners were able to demonstrate desired performance. Inherently this approach builds deliberate practice into its training philosophy. The fundamental premise is to continue to allow the trainee to practice until he has demonstrated desired standards of performance. Time is usually not the constraint in such a situation but the mastery of some skills to a certain level is the target.
The mastery learning principle has been used and demonstrated mostly in an educational setting by some researchers (Reezigt & Weide 1992; Anderson 1994; Motamedi & Sumrall 2000; Guskey 2001). Recently, several years after its original introduction, this model resurfaced again with the name ‘proficiency-based training’ in several surgical (Stefanidis, Korndorffer, Sierra, et al., 2005; Scott, Ritter, Tesfay, 2008; Brydges, Kurashashi, Brummer, et al, 2008) and military (Salas et al., 1998) research to develop proficient performers through training interventions. Pilot training has recently started using this methodology by lifting the restrictions on the same number of hours of practice for all trainees but actually tracking progress by task (Stewart and Dohme, 2005).
The outcome of proficiency-based training is that it is possible to achieve a constant level of mastery across several trainees and make it independent of time or the number of practice trials. During this learner is engaged in deliberate practice in which learners engage in repetitive performance, receive rigorous assessment, and receive informative feedback (Ericsson et al, 1993). Proficiency metrics for training tasks can provide the external motivation necessary to engage them in the skills acquisition process in ways that simply passing time or performing some arbitrary number of practice repetitions cannot. I will be writing about this model in one of my next posts.
The challenge with this approach is that it completely disregards any limit on the time needed to achieve desired proficiency level, thus faster time-to-proficiency is not even the purpose of believers in this philosophy.