Expert Skill Is A Choice, Not A Talent

Talent gets you in the game, but it can't make you an expert.

The SuccessTypes Medical Education Site was established in 1998 as an academic project aimed at using personality type insights as a tool to personalize academic success. Much progress has been made since then by incorporating principles from brain research, sleep research, human performance research, and modern cognitive psychology to increase its effectiveness. An example of an application of these principles can be viewed at TEDxTexasTechUniversity.

Personality type, as described by Carl Jung, affects academic performance because it affects how students make use of their brain during learning activities. 

  • Students differ in the way they prefer to process information and, in turn, this affects their professional performance.
  • Students can constructively use the skills of their non-preferred opposite type to achieve superior performance.
  • This site teaches students how to interpret and apply personality type and to avoid stereotyping and other pitfalls resulting from misunderstanding. 

The SuccessTypes approach to teaching and learning is based on the following principles:

  • Academic strength begins with self-awareness and motivation, not intelligence. While intelligence is important, it can be increased.
  • Self-awareness permits the most rapid development of expert skills through Deliberate Practice (McGaghie et al, Medical education featuring mastery learning with deliberate practice can lead to better health for individuals and populations, Acad Med. 2011. 86(11):e8.)
  • Students must eventually choose between achieving adequate skills and achieving expert skills.
  • Research indicates that Deliberate Practice is needed to produce expert learning skills. Expert clinical skills follow directly from expertise in learning skills because clinical skills are also learning skills. (Ericsson, Deliberate practice and the acquisition and maintenance of expert performance in medicine and related domains, Acad. Med. 2004. 79(10 Suppl):S70-81.)
  • Teachers have the obligation to understand themselves as students in order to be effective teachers. This is because teachers unconsciously teach through their own learning style.
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The purpose of this site is to inspire and educate students on how to transform from receivers of information into producers of their own knowledge. Likewise, educators can be inspired to transform from providers of information into "catalysts" that help students discover and decide.

John Pelley, PhD, MBA

Professor of Medical Education Texas Tech University School of Medicine


The contribution of this website to students and faculty at other medical schools has recently been recognized by the 2010 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Awardpresented to Dr. Pelley at the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Alpha Omega Alpha is the national medical honor society dedicated to the improvement of health care through high academic achievement and gifted teaching.

Transformation of experience (Kolb, Experiential Learning, 1983)
"David Kolb observed that critical thinking skills develop best when students transform their own experience into knowledge by acting on information that they are learning. However, students often see themselves only as receivers of information, thus limiting their action to remembering what they have received. Teachers often see themselves primarily as providers of information, thus limiting their influence on learning to assessing what is remembered. This is an undesirable and unproductive relationship in professional education because it is a passive relationship; it thus creates a dependency that students must eventually overcome. Furthermore, learning information is not the same as “learning how to use” information. 

John Pelley 

Check out the new Expert Skills Program (ESP) Blog

Comments on the SuccessTypes site are welcome concerning the content, organization, and problems with links, please use contact information listed above.


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