I wanted to back up some of what I have been writing about deliberate practice with more academic references. It matters because the evidence indicates that human capital accumulation can be dramatically improved by getting to best practice about practicing skills. K. Anders Ericsson is one of the foremost academic experts about deliberate practice. Here is an excerpt from his “Expert Performance and Deliberate Practice”:
The recent advances in our understanding of the complex representations, knowledge and skills that mediate the superior performance of experts derive primarily from studies where experts are instructed to think aloud while completing representative tasks in their domains, such as chess, music, physics, sports and medicine (Chi, Glaser & Farr, 1988; Ericsson & Smith, 1991; Starkes & Allard, 1993). For appropriate challenging problems experts don’t just automatically extract patterns and retrieve their response directly from memory. Instead they select the relevant information and encode it in special representations in working memory that allow planning, evaluation and reasoning about alternative courses of action (Ericsson & Lehmann, 1996). Hence, the difference between experts and less skilled subjects is not merely a matter of the amount and complexity of the accumulated knowledge; it also reflects qualitative differences in the organization of knowledge and its representation (Chi, Glaser & Rees, 1982). Experts’ knowledge is encoded around key domain-related concepts and solution procedures that allow rapid and reliable retrieval whenever stored information is relevant. Less skilled subjects’ knowledge, in contrast, is encoded using everyday concepts that make the retrieval of even their limited relevant knowledge difficult and unreliable. Furthermore, experts have acquired domain-specific memory skills that allow them to rely on long-term memory (Long-Term Working Memory, Ericsson & Kintsch, 1995) to dramatically expand the amount of information that can be kept accessible during planning and during reasoning about alternative courses of action. The superior quality of the experts’ mental representations allow them to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances and anticipate future events in advance. The same acquired representations appear to be essential for experts’ ability to monitor and evaluate their own performance (Ericsson, 1996; Glaser, 1996) so they can keep improving their own performance by designing their own training and assimilating new knowledge.
Below are some references. You can find a lot more by googling “Ericsson deliberate practice."
Bolger, F., and G. Wright, 1992, ‘Reliability and validity in expert judgment.’ In *Expertise and Decision Support*, G. Wright and F. Bolger, eds. New York: Plenum, pp. 47-76.
Camerer, C. F., and E. J. Johnson, 1991, ‘The process-performance paradox in expert judgment: How can the experts know so much and predict so badly?’ In *Towards a General Theory of Expertise: Prospects and Limits*, K. A. Ericsson and J. Smith, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 195-217.
Charness, N., R. Th. Krampe, and U. Mayr, 1996, ‘The role of practice and coaching in entrepreneurial skill domains: An international comparison of life-span chess skill acquisition.’ In *The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games*, K. A. Ericsson, ed. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 51-80.
Chase, W. G., and H. A. Simon, 1973, ‘The mind’s eye in chess.’ In *Visual Information Processing*, W. G. Chase, ed. New York: Academic Press, pp. 215-281.
Chi, M. T. H., R. Glaser, and M. J. Farr, eds., 1988, *The nature of expertise*. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Chi, M. T. H., R. Glaser, and E. Rees, 1982, ‘Expertise in problem solving.’ In *Advances in the Psychology of Human Intelligence*, R. S. Sternberg, ed. Hillsdale , NJ Erlbaum, Vol. 1, pp. 1-75.
Dawes, R. M., 1994, *House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth*. New York: Free Press.
Djakow, Petrowski, and Rudik, 1927, *Psychologie des Schachspiels [Psychology of Chess]*. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter
Doll, J., and U. Mayr, 1987, ‘Intelligenz und Schachleistung - eine Untersuchung an Schachexperten. [Intelligence and achievement in chess - a study of chess masters].’ *Psychologische Beiträge*, 29: 270-289.
de Groot, A., 1978, *Thought and Choice in Chess*. The Hague: Mouton. (Original work published 1946).
Ericsson, K. A., 1996, ‘The acquisition of expert performance: An introduction to some of the issues.’ In *The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games*, K. A. Ericsson, ed. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 1-50.
Ericsson, K. A., and W. Kintsch, 1995, ‘Long-term working memory.’ *Psychological Review*, 102: 211-245.
Ericsson, K. A., R. Th. Krampe, and C. Tesch-Römer, 1993, ‘The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance.’ *Psychological Review*, 100: 363-406.
Ericsson, K. A., and A. C. Lehmann, 1996, ‘Expert and exceptional performance: Evidence on maximal adaptations on task constraints.’ *Annual Review of Psychology*, 47: 273-305.
Ericsson, K. A., and J. Smith, eds., 1991, *Toward a General Theory of Expertise: Prospects and Limits*. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Glaser, R., 1996, ‘Changing the agency for learning: Acquiring expert performance.’ In *The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games*, K. A. Ericsson, ed. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 303-311.
Hoffman, R. R. ed., 1992, *The Psychology of Expertise: Cognitive Research and Empirical AI*. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Proctor, R. W., and A. Dutta, 1995, *Skill Acquisition and Human Performance*. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Richman, H. B., F. Gobet, J. J. Staszewski, and H. A. Simon, 1996,‘Perceptual and memory processes in the acquisition of expert performance: The EPAM model.’ In *The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games*, K. A. Ericsson, ed. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 167-187.
Simon, H. A., and W. G. Chase, 1973, ‘Skill in chess.’ *American Scientist*, 61: 394-403.
Sloboda, J. A., J. W. Davidson, M. J. A. Howe, and D. G. Moore, 1996, ‘The role of practice in the development of performing musicians.’ *British Journal of Psychology*, 87: 287-309.
Starkes, J. L., and F. Allard, eds., 1993, *Cognitive Issues in Motor Expertise*. Amsterdam: North Holland.
Starkes, J. L., J. Deakin, F. Allard, N. J. Hodges, and A. Hayes, 1996, ‘Deliberate practice in sports: What is it anyway?’ In *The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games*, K. A. Ericsson, ed. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 81-106
Taylor, I. A., 1975, ‘A retrospective view of creativity investigation.’ In *Perspectives in creativity*, I. A. Taylor and J. W. Getzels, eds. Chicago, IL: Aldine Publishing Co, pp. 1-36.
VanLehn, K., 1996, ‘Cognitive skill acquisition.’ *Annual Review of Psychology*, 47: 513-539.
*Webster’s third new international dictionary*, 1976. Springfield, MA: Merriam