THEORY OF SKILL ACQUISITION
BY HUBERT AND STUART DREYFUS
One of the major aspects of traditional epistemology, and its manifestation in artificial intelligence research and the philosophy of mind is its emphasis on the formal system of deduction and premises and propositional knowledge. Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus argue that this formal system of deduction is one of the problems with traditional epistemology, since much of our sense of judgment and the process which we go through to form beliefs is not a matter of starting with premises and by plugging them into a formula in order to deduct conclusions. But rather it is a gradual process that involves being embodied in different ways and developing skills that would make it possible for us to deal with the world. By explaining the five stages that an individual goes through in order to become an expert, Dreyfus and Dreyfus justify their point of view on the topic of learning process and skill development. The main idea behind Dreyfus and Dreyfus’s skill development theories is the distinction they make between “knowing that” and “knowing how.” They argue that many skills, such as riding a bike or playing chess, could not simply be reduced to “knowing that.” The reason that many of us are not conscious of our “knowing how” is possibly because we take our knowing-how for granted. In traditional epistemology, the knowing-how and knowing-that is considered one concept, which is acquired through a formal system of deduction. However Dreyfus and Dreyfus argue that there are five clear stages that an agent goes through in order to evolve from knowing-that, novice, to knowing-how, expert. Traditional epistemologists have a different way of looking at the stages of learning process. They believe that knowing-that and knowing-how is the same idea, which is a skill one should obtain in order to be able to do anything. They object to Dreyfus and Dreyfus’s theory on the learning process by saying that replacing a formal system of deduction which is made of premises and logical conclusion, with a natural process with no premises would result in a set of much less logically accurate results. They argue that knowing-how is just a set of many knowing-that’s. For instance they comment on the bike example and how an agent learns to ride a bike. They argue that the idea of knowing how to ride a bike itself consists of many knowing that’s, such as keeping the balance on two wheels or changing the gear when it’s necessary. They argue that these knowing that’s combine to construct one knowing-how for one specific task. Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus have a different way of looking at the concept of learning and skill acquisition. In the article “Five stages from Novice to expert,” they state, “As human beings acquire a skill through instruction and experiences, they do not appear to leap suddenly from rule-guided “knowing that” to experience-based knowing-how.”1 Hubert and Stuart believe that there is a gradual process involved for an agent to go through in order for him to reach the stage of expertise or knowing-how. Their skill acquisition process shows that a person goes through at least five stages of different.
knowledge of a specific task and ways of decision-making as he improves his skill. These five stages are novice, advanced beginner, competence, proficiency, and expertise. Hubert and Stuart do not expect the reader to accept the words, but rather they are asking the readers to find a task that they are good at, and see whether the process by which the readers themselves acquired various skills reveals a similar pattern. The skill of playing chess would be a great example to use in order to describe the five stages of skill acquisition. The first stage is called novice. A novice has some general ideas and is in the process of learning the rules, such as the movement of the chess pieces or what is counted as check or mate in chess. The second stage is advanced beginner...
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