Pragmatic Thinking and Learning by Andy Hunt

The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition is a valuable concept in teaching. The idea that people look at problems and new ideas differently depending on their skill level turns on its head the age old approaches to teaching prevalent in “modern” education systems.

Here are the five stages in this model in increasing skill:

1. Novice
  • “rigid adherence to taught rules or plans”
  • no exercise of “discretionary judgment”
2. Advanced beginner
  • limited “situational perception”
  • all aspects of work treated separately with equal importance
3. Competent
  • “coping with crowdedness” (multiple activities, accumulation of information)
  • some perception of actions in relation to goals
  • deliberate planning
  • formulates routines
4. Proficient
  • holistic view of situation
  • prioritizes importance of aspects
  • “perceives deviations from the normal pattern”
  • employs maxims for guidance, with meanings that adapt to the situation at hand
5. Expert
  • transcends reliance on rules, guidelines, and maxims
  • “intuitive grasp of situations based on deep, tacit understanding”
  • has “vision of what is possible”
  • uses “analytical approaches” in new situations or in case of problems

One important thing to note about this model is that it’s not only useful for teaching — it’s actually applicable to almost all phases in the “life cycle” of an employee. The model can affect recruitment, training/initial deployment, up to promotion to senior positions. I will be referencing the model in this context after I discuss the various aspects of Drucker’s “knowledge worker”.

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