The studies reported in this dissertation were undertaken to shed light on some important issues that currently prevail in research on the development of expertise, and in research on fostering metacognitive processes in learners in particular. In general, the studies reported here were developed to determine to what extent, and in which format, novice learners can benefit from engaging in metacognitive processes as employed by experts. Departing from principles on learning and instruction as postulated in the theory of deliberate practice (Ericsson et al., 1993), our goal was to formulate and test implementations of this theory in non-expert learners. Based on an analysis of experts’ practice behavior, Ericsson and colleagues postulated that experts’ exceptional performance is not explained by a genetic predisposition, but can rather be ascribed to years of dedication to intense practice schedules. Particularly when practice is deliberate and centered around tasks that are designed to improve performance (compared to tasks performed for fun), the development of expertise will be maximized. More specifically, when the study task is of an appropriate difficulty level, when the learner receives informative feedback about performance, and when there is ample room for repetition and correction of errors, this type of practice is referred to as “deliberate practice”. Ericsson and colleagues (1993) showed that the total number of hours spent on deliberate practice diff erentiates individuals of varying levels of expertise. That is, a monotonic positive relationship was observed between amount of deliberate practice and performance level. This monotonic benefits assumption has been tested and confirmed in a variety of studies in diverse settings (e.g., Charness et al., 1996, 2005; Helsen et al., 1998; Hodge & Deakin, 1998; Hodges et al., 2004).

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Schmidt, Prof. Dr. H.G. (promotor)
H.G. Schmidt (Henk)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Department of Sociology