How to Raise Your Performance to Expert Levels with Deliberate Practice: A Summary of the New Book PEAK

Fordham Law School

Thursday, April 7th, 5:00pm
Law School Building, Room Law 3-03

K. Anders Ericsson
Department of Psychology
Florida State University

Researchers have generally assumed that general abilities of memory, intelligence, and creativity matured during development until the beginning of adulthood, but could not be changed and thus limited the acquisition of expert performance. Recent research in many domains of expertise, such as chess, music, medicine, and sports, shows that some types of experience, such as focused appropriate training activities – deliberate practice – can dramatically change the human body (enlargement of hearts and arteries and growth of capillaries) and brain (myelinization and blood supply of nerve fibers), and over extended time modify virtually all characteristics relevant to superior performance, with the exception of body size and height.

The acquisition of expert and elite performance involves a successive development of increasingly refined mental mechanisms that afford experts increased control over their performance. A theoretical analysis of the full range of elite performers’ learning, skill acquisition, and physiological adaptations is now providing the foundation for a scientifically-based account of the human potential that is attainable through optimal development and deliberate practice.

The research has shown that the acquisition of reproducibly superior (expert) performance corresponds to a successive development of increasingly refined mental mechanisms that afford experts increased control over their performance in representative situations. This successive improvements can typically be linked to a sequence of appropriate deliberate practice activities, which a coach or teachers has selected for a particular learner based on their current level of performance. The learners can engage in the practice task which provides immediate accurate feedback, and opportunities for repetition and gradual modifications after reflection.

About the Speaker

K. Anders Ericsson, PhD, is presently Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. After his PhD in Sweden, he collaborated with the Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Herbert A. Simon on verbal reports of thinking leading to their classic book “Protocol Analysis: Verbal Reports as Data” (1984). Currently he studies the measurement of expert performance in domains, such as music, chess, nursing, law enforcement, and sports, and how expert performers attain their superior performance by acquiring complex cognitive mechanisms and physiological adaptations through extended deliberate practice.

He has edited several books on expertise, the influential Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance consisted of over 40 chapters and 900 pages and the recent Development of Professional Expertise, which appeared in 2009. In 2016 his co-authored book Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise will be released. He has published articles in prestigious journals, such as Science, Academic Medicine, Psychological Review, Psychological BulletinAcademic Emergency Medicine, Current Biology, and Trends of Cognitive Science.

He is a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science and a member of Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. His research has been featured in cover stories in Scientific American, Time, Fortune, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He has been invited to give keynote presentations at conferences of surgeons, musicians, teachers, clinical psychologists, athletes, and coaches as well as professional sports organizations, such as the Philadelphia Eagles and Manchester City.

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