Skill Acquisition and Training : Achieving Expertise in Simple and Complex Tasks book cover
1st Edition

Skill Acquisition and Training
Achieving Expertise in Simple and Complex Tasks

ISBN 9781138640160
Published September 1, 2016 by Routledge
388 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $74.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Skill Acquisition and Training describes the building blocks of cognitive, motor, and teamwork skills, and the factors to take into account in training them. The basic processes of perception, cognition and action that provide the foundation for understanding skilled performance are discussed in the context of complex task requirements, individual differences, and extreme environmental demands. The role of attention in perceiving, selecting, and becoming aware of information, in learning new information, and in performance is described in the context of specific skills.

A theme throughout this book is that much learning is implicit; the types of knowledge and relations that can profitably be learned implicitly and the conditions under which this learning benefits performance are discussed. The question of whether skill acquisition in cognitive domains shares underlying mechanisms with the acquisition of perceptual and motor skills is also addressed with a view to identifying commonalities that allow for widely applicable, general theories of skill acquisition. Because the complexity of real-world environments puts demands on the individual to adapt to new circumstances, the question of how skills research can be applied to organizational training contexts is an important one. To address this, this book dedicates much content to practical applications, covering such issues as how training needs can be captured with task and job analyses and how to maximize training transfer by taking trainee self-efficacy and goal orientation into account.

This comprehensive yet readable textbook is optimized for students of cognitive psychology looking to understand the intricacies of skill acquisition.

Table of Contents

Skill Acquisition and Training


Chapter 1: Skill Acquisition and Training in Context

Historical Overview of Skills Research

Early Studies of Skill Acquisition

Transfer of Learning

Skilled Action

Information-Processing Approach to Skill Acquisition

Phases of Skill Acquisition

Quantifying Performance Changes

Performance Measures

Verbal Protocol Analysis

Psychophysiological and Neuropsychological Measures

Modeling Skill

Applications of Skills Research


Chapter 2: Perceptual Learning

Mechanisms of Perceptual Learning

Attention Weighting

Stimulus Imprinting


Perceptual Unitization

Facilitating the Development of Perceptual Skill

Visual Search

Procedural Learning

Adaptive Perception


Chapter 3: Response Selection and Motor Skill

Response-Selection Skill

Speed-Accuracy Tradeoff

Set-Size Effects and Uncertainty

Stimulus-Response Compatibility Effects

Sequential Effects

Motor Learning

Motor Programming Perspective

Dynamic Systems Approach

Problems of Movement Control

Factors Influencing Motor Skill Acquisition


Schedules of Practice


Chapter 4: Attention and Skill

Conceptualizing Attention

Attentional Bottlenecks

Attentional Resources

The Psychological Refractory Period Effect

Specificity of Training and Multiple Resources

Attention and Automaticity

Attentional Skill

Timesharing Skill

Enhancing Attention through Training

Intelligence and Cognitive Control

Mind Wandering and Executive Attention

Implicit Learning


Chapter 5: Cognitive Skill and Instruction

Problem-solving Skill

The Problem Space

Metacognitive Skill

Learning from Examples

Learning and Remembering

Acquiring Knowledge

Second Language Learning

Schemas for Remembering

Learning by Analogy

The Einstellung (Mental-set) Effect

Facilitating the Acquisition of Cognitive Skill

Structuring Practice

Spacing Practice Trials

The Testing Effect



User Models and Intelligent Tutors


Chapter 6: Expertise

The Investigation of Expertise

Understanding Expert Knowledge

Acquisition of Expert Performance

General Characteristics of Experts 

Expertise in Three Specific Domains

Interpreting Medical Images

Computer Software Design and Programming

Expert Typing

Skilled Memory Theory


Chapter 7: Why Errors Occur and their Contributions to Learning

Errors and Action Control

Initiating and Maintaining Action Plans

Effects of Making Errors on Learning

Learning from Errors

Learning from Post-event Reviews

Performance Monitoring

Prediction Error and Learning

Repeating Errors Made During Training

Error Orientation


Chapter 8: Individual Differences in Skill Acquisition and Maintenance

Intelligence and Aptitudes

Cognitive and Neural Correlates Approaches

Cognitive Components Approach

Aptitude-Treatment Interactions

Task Analysis Based on Individual Difference Variables

Dynamic Accounts of Abilities and Skill

Ackerman’s Modified Radex Model

Norman and Shallice’s Levels of Action Control

Problems of Interpretation in Understanding the Relation between Abilities and Skill Level

Individual Differences in Reading Skill

Skill and Aging


Chapter 9: Situational Influences on Skilled Performance

Arousal and Performance

Theories Based on General Arousal and the Yerkes-Dodson Law

Arguments Against "General Arousal" and the Yerkes-Dodson Law

Circadian Rhythms

Body Temperature and Performance

Memory and Cognitive Tasks

Speed-Accuracy Tradeoff


Individual Differences

Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue

Stressful Physical Environments

Effects of Noise

Effects of Extreme Temperatures

Drug Use and Performance

Effects of Caffeine

Effects of Nicotine

Effects of Alcohol


Chapter 10: Designing Effective Training Systems

Assessing Training Requirements

Structuring Training

Simulator Training

Team Training

Crew Resource Management

Implementing and Evaluating Training in Organizations

Transfer Climate

Continuous Learning

Trainee Characteristics


Goal Orientation

Transfer Motivation

Evaluating Training Effectiveness

Maximizing the Benefits of Training

National Culture and Training


View More



Addie Johnson is Professor of Human Performance and Ergonomics at the University of Groningen. She is co-author, with Robert Proctor, of Attention: Theory and Practice, and Neuroergonomics: A Cognitive Neuroscience Approach to Human Factors and Ergonomics. Her research focuses on the intersection of memory and attention.

Robert W. Proctor is Distinguished Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. In addition to the books with Addie Johnson, he is co-author, with Trisha Van Zandt, of Human Factors in Simple and Complex Systems (2nd ed.) and, with Kim-Phuong L. Vu, of Stimulus-Response Compatibility Principles: Data, Theory, and Application. His research focuses on basic and applied aspects of human performance.


A book on skill acquisition and training should be written with great skill. This one is. It is a comprehensive, up-to-date rewrite of an earlier classic by the same authors. I recommend it highly.

-David A. Rosenbaum, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, USA

This book by leading experts provides a superlative, up-to-date, and lucid summary of research on skill acquisition and training. Along with insightful consideration of general theories and empirical findings, the book offers astute advice concerning training in the real world.

-Alice F. Healy, College Professor of Distinction, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

This is the most complete and thorough book I’ve read on skill acquisition and training. It successfully links basic processes such as perception, attention, and action to the acquisition of specialized skills and the development of training systems.

-Jeroen J. G. van Merrienboer, Professor of Learning and Instruction, Maastricht University, the Netherlands