Wayne Gray, Professor, Cognitive Science, RPI


Wayne Gray, Professor, Cognitive Science, RPI

Sage 4101

October 28, 2015 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

​120 years ago the emergent field of experimental psychology became embroiled in debates as to whether plateaus in performance were real (or not) and if so whether they were due to periods in which league-stepping habits (originally defined by Bryan & Harter, 1899, as a hierarchy of habits that enabled experts to step leagues while novices were “bustling over furlongs or inches”) were being acquired (or not). 20 years ago both the human-computer interaction (HCI) and cognitive science (CogSci) communities were seized with concerns over performance plateaus (i.e., extended periods of stable suboptimal performance) from experts. For HCI this was viewed as a systems problem and referred to as the Paradox of the Active User. CogSci diagnosed this as a training problem and embraced Deliberate Practice. After an introduction, we review this history and clarify the distinction between performance plateaus and asymptotes, suggesting that the former may be remediated by adopting new strategies and acquiring new methods whereas the latter cannot. The behavioral markers represented by plateaus, dips, and leaps provide a framework within which to build theories of the acquisition of expertise based on the microdynamics of performance change for individuals. For the researcher, dips become the marker of transitional phases of performance and the methods developed during these dips and leaps are the key to acquiring League Stepping Habits.




Add to calendar