Learning by doing: Understanding skill acquisition through skill acquisition

Anne Collins McLaughlin, Wendy Rogers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Learning-by-doing is a well-established pedagogical tool. This approach was incorporated into a semester-long course on skill acquisition. The primary goal for the course was to explore general issues in skill acquisition, transfer, and retention from both a methodological and a substantive perspective. Students read articles from the research literature on motor, perceptual, and cognitive skills; expertise, automaticity, and training. The research articles were selected to provide a foundation for theories of learning, models of skill acquisition, and controversies about optimal training methods. Each student also selected a skill to acquire during the semester and committed to practice 3-8 hours per week. This learning-by-doing aspect of the course included maintaining a journal, creating measures of their skill, participating in weekly discussions about their skill acquisition efforts, writing an integrative review paper about the domain of their skill, and demonstrating their improvement across the semester. The students reported that the course provided a valuable overview of skill acquisition in general and that their personal experiences augmented their learning. The purpose of this paper is to share our experiences with this successful pedagogical method with others interested in teaching courses on skill acquisition. Sample syllabi are available on request from either author.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication54th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2010, HFES 2010
Number of pages5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Externally publishedYes
Event54th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2010, HFES 2010 - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Sep 27 2010Oct 1 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
ISSN (Print)1071-1813


Other54th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2010, HFES 2010
CountryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics

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