This Guest paper series was originally published by the Cutter Consortium Agile Product & Project Management Advisory Service in 2009. It is reproduced here, with permission from the publishers (

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Part 1 published here September 2014.

Introduction | Expertise Defined | The Stages of Learning
A Template for Learning | The Training Gap | PART 2

A Template for Learning

Although Bloom's Taxonomy provides a picture of the stages through which skills are developed, it does not explain the process by which skill development occurs. Although the psychological process of learning remains an area of research, Klein's work provides some practical insights on the issue. By studying highly skilled workers in their natural environments and the process through which they developed their skill, Klein identified a set of four conditions under which higher-level thinking skills develop.[7] While the conditions themselves don't explain the inner workings of the brain, they do hint at the processes by which learning occurs.

The four conditions Klein identified are:

  1. Repetitive exposure to common patterns of events
  2. Timely feedback between a decision being made and the decision's outcome manifesting
  3. A clear relationship between an individual decision and its outcome
  4. Time to reflect on performance

Again, learning to play soccer provides a good illustration of these processes in action. Much of the coaching that young soccer players receive is done using repetitive drills that provide the students with exposure to the repeated patterns of events that may occur in a real game. The coach provides timely feedback on performance and because each exercise focuses on an individual skill, there is a clear relationship between the actions the learner took and the outcomes.

Most teams also participate in local leagues that allow the skills to be used in real-world situations. The score at the end of the 90-minute game provides clear feedback, and most coaches are more than willing to provide ongoing feedback as the game progresses! To cap things off, many games are followed by a debriefing that allows the individuals to reflect on their performance.

Although not every young player will go on to bend a ball around a defensive wall the way David Beckham can, the average standard of play for those who have been through a proper coaching program is far higher than for groups that have not. I learned to play soccer without proper coaching and certainly the standard in the junior leagues in the area I live in is far higher than the level my friends and I managed to attain kicking a ball around on our own.

The Stages of Learning  The Stages of Learning

7. Klein. See 3.
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