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DeKeyser: Skill Acquisition Theory

Seminar in SLA, Fall 2009

Alissa H

on 28 September 2009

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Transcript of DeKeyser: Skill Acquisition Theory

DeKeyser: Skill Acquisition Theory
The Theory
Basic claim: "The learning of a wide variety of skills
shows a remarkable similarity from initial representation
of knowledge through initial changes in behavior to
eventual fluent, spontaneous, largely effortless, and
highly skilled behavior, and that this set of phenomena
can be accounted for by a set of basic principles common
to the acquisition of all skills." (p. 97)
"Knowledge about a skill without ever even trying to use it" (p. 98)
Acquired through direct instruction or observation and analysis
"acting on [declarative] knowledge" (p. 98)
once knowledge is proceduralized, it is accessible in a "program" (or "ready-made chunk") rather than "bits and pieces" of information
"Relevant behavior is consistently displayed with complete fluency and spontaneity, rarely showing any errors" (p. 98)
Requires a large amount of practice
Marked by decreased reaction time, error rate, and interference from other tasks
Power of Learning Curve
Number of problems / trials
Time to solution
Error rate
Interference from other tasks
Knowledge at later stages of development is more specific
Because knowledge becomes more specific, it does not transfer well to other tasks
Acquisition is Skill-Specific
Implication for Training
Two kinds of knowledge are necessary:
1. Automatized procedural knowledge for immediate use
2. Abstract declarative knowledge that can be used for adapting to new contexts
Limit of Application
Primarily applies to "(a) high-aptitude adult learners engaged in (b) the learning of simple structures at (c) fairly early stages of learning in (d) instructional contexts." (p.103)
Exemplary Study
DeKeyser (1997) (see Ortega pp. 85-87)
-Supported power of learning curve as a representation of fast proceduralization followed by slow automatization and underlined skill-specificity of procedural knowledge
Robinson (1997)
-Suggested that "knowledge acquired from exposure to samples alone without a rule being available is completely memory-based and therefore limited in its generalizability." (p.107)
-Indicated that the frequency of specific examples in the input does not influence the power curve (refuted Logan's theory of automaticity as retrieval of instances)
Implications for SLA
All three stages (descriptive, procedural, automatic) are necessary, and must occur in this order, for skills to be acquired.
Different learning outcomes occur because of:
1. Different levels of ability to grasp declarative knowledge
2. Differing amounts of practice of specific kinds for specific structures
3. Different sequencing of various kinds of explicit information, implicit input, and practice
Although learners may still follow predictable stages in their order of acquisition of target structures, the speed and systematicity with which they learn them should increase.
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