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The Dreyfus Model: Developer Events and Skill Categories

October 8th, 2009

I found the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition neat. It’s a central theme throughout Pragmatic Thinking and Learning by Andy Hunt.

Here’s how Wikipedia describes the Dreyfus Model:

The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition postulates that when individuals acquire a skill through external instruction, they normally pass through five stages. … the five stages of skill acquisition are: Novice, Advanced beginner, Competent, Proficient and ExpertDreyfus model of skill acquisition

We have different skills and are at different stages simultaneously in each skill – for example, someone might be an Expert at underwater basket weaving and a Novice at cooking. As we cultivate our experience we progress through these stages.

The categories (again, from Wikipedia) are as follows:

  1. Novice
    • rigid adherence to rules
    • no discretional judgment
  2. Advanced beginner
    • situational perception still limited
    • all aspects of work are treated separately and given equal importance
  3. Competent
    • coping with crowdedness (multiple activity, information)
    • now partially sees action as part of longer term goals
    • conscious , deliberate planning
  4. Proficient
    • holistic view of situation, rather than in terms of aspects
    • sees what is most important in a situation
    • uses maxims for guidance, meaning of maxims may vary according to situation
  5. Expert
    • no longer reliant on rules, guidelines, maxims
    • intuitive grasp of situation, based on tacit knowledge
    • vision of what is possible

Presented with these categories we can draw some parallels with the software realm. Like say, create a list of events that you’d most likely find these different categories of software developers hanging out.

Developer Event Attendance and Developer Skill Categories:

  1. Vendor or Technology Specific: User Groups / Code Camps / Corporate Training / Evangelistic Events
    • Many Novices
    • Many Advanced beginners
    • A small number of Competents that are transitioning to Proficients
    • Proficients and Experts might be leading the group or may have been mandated to go by their organization
  2. Open Book Clubs / Non Specific Technology Meetings / Non Specific Bar Camp Type Events
    • Mostly Competents, Proficients, and Experts

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’ve noticed that my attendance to the events listed above continually shift. Initially I thought I was becoming a curmudgeon, but instead I shifted a couple Dreyfus categories.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:
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