Skills acquisition: How do we learn a new skills?

Research Briefing

Keywords: learning, skills acquisition, skills learning, learning and development, organisational learning

When we learn a new skill there is a considerable time in which we have to practise the new skill before that practice leads to a speed up of actions or application. In other words, as we are learning a new skill there is a period of time when we are not very effective or efficient. Then, over time, and with repeated application, we start to become more proficient and faster.

Mathematicians, psychologists and other scientist have for many years attempted to provide a mathematical formula for working out how the ‘law of practice’ works. Many theories have been put forward, such as any new skill takes 10,000 hours, and that increases in speed proficiency tend to be linear, getting better day after day, through to more recent attempts using power law formula. A power law formula suggests that, when we are practising a new skill, progress remains slow for a considerable amount of time and finally takes off when proficiency starts to develop rapidly.

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Sofronio Jadulco

Sophie is a core member of the Oxford Review. She started working with us in 2017 and hands a diverse range of really important jobs from social media to marketing and customer support. Sophie is the efficient member of the team, making sure all those background tasks get done just right. Without her, almost none of what happens in the background would get done.