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Deliberate practice: Is that all it takes to become an expert?

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Abstract

Twenty years ago, Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Römer (1993) proposed that expert performance reflects a long period of deliberate practice rather than innate ability, or “talent”. Ericsson et al. found that elite musicians had accumulated thousands of hours more deliberate practice than less accomplished musicians, and concluded that their theoretical framework could provide “a sufficient account of themajor facts about the nature and scarcity of exceptional performance” (p. 392). The deliberate practice viewhas since gained popularity as a theoretical account of expert performance, but here we show that deliberate practice is not sufficient to explain individual differences in performance in the two most widely studied domains in expertise research—chess and music. For researchers interested in advancing the science of expert performance, the task now is to develop and rigorously test theories that take into account as many potentially relevant explanatory constructs as possible.
... A viable experimental framework to study human information processing is found in the game of chess (Ericsson & Smith, 1991;Simon, 1979). On the one hand, chess is highly complex: The game harbors an astronomical number of possible games and board positions (Allis, 1994;Shannon, 1950), and becoming a chess expert requires not only high cognitive ability but also thousands of hours of practice Gobet & Campitelli, 2007;Grabner, 2014;Hambrick et al., 2014;Howard, 2012;Vaci et al., 2019). At the same time, chess is remarkably simple: the board consists of only 64 squares and six types of pieces, with rules that can be learned by virtually anyone. ...
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Chunking theory and previous eye-tracking studies suggest that expert chess players rely on peripheral vision when judging a chess position and determining the best move to play. However, so far, the role of peripheral vision in chess has mostly been inferred rather than based on controlled experimentation. In this study, we used a gaze-contingent paradigm in a reconstruction task initially used by De Groot (1946). It was hypothesized that the smaller the gaze-contingency window while memorizing a chess position, the smaller the differences in reconstruction accuracy between novice and expert players. In the experiment, participants viewed 30 chess positions for 20 seconds, after which they reconstructed this position. This was done for four different window sizes as well as for full visibility of the board. Cohen's d effect sizes between experts and novices of the proportion of correctly placed pieces were found to support the foregoing hypothesis. A complementary find-the-best-move task and additional eye-movement analyses showed that experts had a longer median fixation duration and more concentrated scan patterns than intermediate and novice players. Our findings implicate a key contribution of peripheral vision and are consistent with the prevailing chunking theory.
... These positive outcomes aligned with the key tenets of deliberate practice, where practising more intensively and intently contributed to learning and mastery of skills. [12] The literature supports the need for educational interventions to meet the highest levels of the Kirkpatrick evaluation model (level 3 and level 4), [13] which were beyond the scope of this study. More robust longitudinal research approaches should be instituted that would evaluate the impact of innovative educational strategies adopted in crisis situations on student competence in the clinical environment. ...
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Background. Educational institutions were compelled to adapt their educational strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The innovation of boot camps as a strategy for learning and teaching clinical skills was applied by a school of nursing immediately after the hard lockdown in South Africa. Objectives. To describe the outcomes of implementing an innovative educational strategy for the learning and teaching of clinical skills in an undergraduate nursing programme. Methods. The study comprised a parallel convergent mixed-methods design. Qualitative data were collected from educators (n=7) involved with the boot camps, while the quantitative data comprised module evaluations by 219 students and summative practical assessment scores. Thematic analysis through an inductive approach was applied for the qualitative data, while central tendency and frequencies were used to analyse the quantitative data. Results. Three themes emerged from the narrative data, i.e. rationalising the boot camps, executing the boot camps and learning from the boot camps. Quantitative data support each of the themes. The boot camps appeared to have been appreciated as an emergency innovative educational strategy, with improved student assessment outcomes. Conclusions. The COVID-19 pandemic forced education institutions to adopt a variety of innovative educational strategies. Boot camps appear to have positively influenced the learning and teaching of clinical skills at a school of nursing. There is a need for robust longitudinal research evaluating the long-term effect of such innovative educational strategies.
... Research in the expert performance literature has provided indirect support for this effect by showing that expert levels of performance can be obtained through both ability and practice in a particular domain. In other words, high levels of performance are achieved when individuals with high ability in a particular area focus their time and effort on tasks related to that domain of performance (Hambrick et al., 2014). ...
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Cognitive ability is one of the best predictors of performance on the job and past research has seemingly converged on the idea that narrow cognitive abilities do not add incremental validity over general mental ability (GMA) for predicting job performance. In the present study, we propose that the reason for the lack of incremental validity in previous research is that the narrow cognitive abilities that have been assessed most frequently are also the abilities that are most highly correlated with GMA. Therefore, we expect that examining a broader range of narrow cognitive abilities that are less highly correlated with GMA will demonstrate incremental validity for narrow abilities. To examine this prediction, we conducted an updated meta-analysis of the relationship between cognitive ability and a multidimensional conceptualization of job performance (task performance, training performance, organizational citizenship behavior, counterproductive work behavior, withdrawal). Using several different methods of analyzing the data, results indicated that the narrow cognitive abilities that are the least highly correlated with GMA added substantial incremental validity for predicting task performance, training performance, and organizational citizenship behavior. These results have important implications for the assessment of cognitive ability and the employee selection process.
... according to Platz and colleagues (2014). Moreover, some musicians may need more practice than their learning peers in order to reach similar levels of expertise (Hambrick et al., 2014;Sloboda et al., 1996). ...
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Practice is the process through which musicians improve their performance abilities and increase their level of expertise. Deliberate Practice (DP) is a theory of expertise based on the concept that interindividual differences in the level of proficiency in a specific domain can be mostly explained by interindividual differences in the amount of deliberate practice; despite its popularity, subsequent studies have demonstrated several critical issues in Ericsson’s DP concept, due to its vagueness in definitions, arbitrary measurements of expertise, and inability to account for the possible role of genes. The present project aimed at creating a new questionnaire, capable of measuring practice quality in terms of deliberate practice for the music domain, regardless of the instrument and musical genre played, at any level of expertise. Based on data from a sample of 1,558 musicians, ranging from amateurs to world-renowned soloists, the Deliberate Practice in Music Inventory (DPMI) was created, a self-report questionnaire and measurement instrument for practice quality consisting of a main DP scale and four subscales: Process improvement, Practice competences, Mindless practice (inverted scale), and Task decomposition. Results indicated that musicians who implement effective practice habits are focused on solving problems related to music playing and often refine their practice routines to increase their effectiveness. In addition, musicians who usually exhibit high amounts of DP behavior often decompose long and complex tasks into shorter and simpler elements, aiming to master them more easily and in shorter time. The DPMI instrument shows good convergent validity with measures related to expertise in music as well as good predictive validity for performance improvement. The DPMI generates new perspectives for the field of musical expertise research.
... In addition, engagement in the complex activity of learning to play a musical instrument for a long period of time would lead to neurocognitive adaptations producing further enhancements in general cognitive skills and academic achievement. Even for expert music performance and the skills directly trained, deliberate practice seems insufficient to wholly explain individual differences (only ~ 30%; Hambrick et al., 2014), and part of the remaining variability might come from preexisting factors such as genetic factors and early musical experience (Seesjärvi et al., 2016). To our knowledge, only one experimental study has investigated far transfer with instrumental learning using a monozygotic cotwin control design (Nering, 2002). ...
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An extensive literature has investigated the impact of musical training on cognitive skills and academic achievement in children and adolescents. However, most of the studies have relied on cross-sectional designs, which makes it impossible to elucidate whether the observed differences are a consequence of the engagement in musical activities. Previous meta-analyses with longitudinal studies have also found inconsistent results, possibly due to their reliance on vague definitions of musical training. In addition, more evidence has appeared in recent years. The current meta-analysis investigates the impact of early programs that involve learning to play musical instruments on cognitive skills and academic achievement, as previous meta-analyses have not focused on this form of musical training. Following a systematic search, 34 independent samples of children and adolescents were included, with a total of 176 effect sizes and 5998 participants. All the studies had pre-post designs and, at least, one control group. Overall, we found a small but significant benefit (g¯Δ = 0.26) with short-term programs, regardless of whether they were randomized or not. In addition, a small advantage at baseline was observed in studies with self-selection (g¯pre = 0.28), indicating that participants who had the opportunity to select the activity consistently showed a slightly superior performance prior to the beginning of the intervention. Our findings support a nature and nurture approach to the relationship between instrumental training and cognitive skills. Nevertheless, evidence from well-conducted studies is still scarce and more studies are necessary to reach firmer conclusions.
... One possible explanation is that information is siloed; confined to its field of regard, while other related scientific fields keep their research in their own silos (Root-Bernstein, 1989). This is how academia produces experts, the PhDs who are at the height of their knowledge (Hambrick et al., 2014). But perhaps delving deeper and deeper into a subject, into an ever-expanding chasm of knowledge is not the only way to create Kuhn's scientific revolutions. ...
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In this issue Howard reported that the effect of chess study is surprisingly small among elite chess players, who continue playing more games in international chess tournaments. In contrast, we show that individual differences in chess study are the likely causes of both higher chess ratings and more chess games played in international tournaments, which is often very costly and includes airfare, hotel, and tournament registration fees. The low correlation between his estimates of study time and chess rating is shown to be a consequence of his methodology of relying on a couple of questions in an internet survey rather than the standard methodology in expert performance research involving a 30-minute interview tracing yearly engagement in many different practice activities. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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