📝Dreyfus model

§ Teaching
Dreyfus2004 (first appeared as part of Dreyfus1986)
× Dreyfus model (1980)

Dreyfus model describes the stages of developing a skill. With progression through stages, the performer relies less on the formal abstract rules and more on concrete expertise and intuition.


  1. Novice. Novices need formal rules described using context-free features (features performer can detect without expertise). The performer should be (self-)monitored to bring himself into more conformity with the rule.

    The rules help the novice to start but are too simplistic and yield poor performance in real-world.

  2. Advanced beginner. Advanced beginner learns to recognize context-dependent aspects—the aspects are situational. New maxims involving context-dependent aspects are introduced. (e.g., when driving, shift up if motor sounds like it’s raising, or down when it’s straining.) Unlike a rule, a maxim requires that one already have some understanding of the domain.
  3. Competent. At competent stage, the performer is able to detect many aspects, but is not sure which are important and which are safe to ignore. It becomes overwhelming.

    At this point, because a sense of what is important in any particular situation is missing, performance becomes nerve-wracking and exhausting, and the student might well wonder how anybody ever masters the skill.

    A this stage, the student need to learn which aspects are more important then others, and which can be safely ignored.

    As students learn to restrict themselves to only a few of the vast number of possibly relevant features and aspects, understanding and decision making becomes easier.

    This is the first stage that student feels responsible for their choice. (On previous stages, inadequate rules are to blame.)

    Because one is never sure they are making the right decision, success/failure bring much more emotions.

    Emotional involvement is a good thing at this stage. Unless you stay emotionally engaged, you won’t progress and will eventually burn out trying to deal with all features, aspects, rules, and maxims. (Benner1984, From novice to expert: Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice.)

    if one seeks the safety of rules, one will not get beyond competence. […] experiencing deeply felt reward or remorse seems to be necessary for the performer to learn from examples without rules.

  4. Proficient. At proficient stage, the choice of aspects to focus on and what are desired outcomes are obvious, but exact steps to achieve them are not. The performer must still decide what to do. (The performer simply didn’t have enough experience to answer each situation automatically.)
  5. Expert. At expert level, both the goal and action course are immediately obvious (intuitive). Expert makes more subtle and refined discriminations than a proficient performer.

    Grandmaster chess player can distinguish ≈100,000 types of positions and can play at rates of 5–10 seconds per move.

    In amateur and expert player, different parts of brain are active.

    The tradition has given an accurate description of the beginner and of the expert facing an unfamiliar situation, but normally an expert does not calculate. He or she does not solve problems. He or she does not even think. He or she just does what normally works and, of course, it normally works.




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