"Initial Skill Learning:

An Analysis of How Elaborations

Facilitate the Three Components"

Davida Charney and Lynne Reder

Modelling Cognition

Ed. P. E. Morris. Chichester: Wiley, 1987. 135-165.


We address the initial stage of cognitive skill acquisition; that is, how a novice learns a skill well enough to use it. Rather than trying to understand the development of cognitive expertise, our goal is to explore more carefully what initial cognitive skill acquisition requires and how initial verbal instruction can facilitate each component. We conceive of initial skill learning as consisting of three critical components: (a) learning novel concepts and the functionality of novel procedures; (b) learning how to execute the procedures; and (c) learning the conditions under which a procedure is applied and remembering the best procedure to execute in a given situation. We analyze how different types of elaborations in the initial instructions (analogies, instantiations and situation examples) specifically contribute to skill learning.