Expert Skills Program for Graduate Students
This page has been created in response to positive feedback from prior GSBS Orientation lectures on brain-based learning and academic achievement. These lectures were intended to help new graduate students get off to a good start, especially since the performance standards are more stringent than for undergraduate studies. The lecture will continue annually as an adaptation of the skill development concepts, the Expert Skills Program (ESP), which are found at this website for medical students. These concepts can also be applied in the early GSBS Core Courses (both in-person and online). In order to help you derive the most benefit from these concepts, there are a few questions that need to be answered.
The concept of study skills is superficial and generally misunderstood. While it is a commonly used term, it is not specific for what the study activity is supposed to actually accomplish. The expectation is that good study skills involve hard work and repetition resulting in making sense of the material and achieving a good score on an exam. In general, the study skill is supposed to fix the problem. Instead, the research in human learning indicates that the best approach is to understand what type of learning is needed and then study with a method that brings about that learning.
“Expert” refers to the type of performance you want to develop and it has only a little to do with talent or intelligence. Talent and intelligence are helpful in getting you into graduate school, but they aren’t enough to get you through graduate school. The word "expert" indicates a level of performance that is reliably achieved with a minimum, or absence, of error. The research evidence shows that success is coupled to the way you practice, e.g. the way you study for an exam or the way you develop and investigate a research project are both ways that you practice.
You need one more skill. That skill is thinking skill. There are other ways of referring to thinking skill: analytical skill, critical thinking skill, self-regulated learning skill, problem-solving skill, etc. All of these views of how we think show how important understanding your own thinking can be. Human performance research studies thinking as a skill because a skill can be developed. You aren't just stuck with your current level of thinking skill. The process of improving skills is called skill acquisition.
Each of four areas of the brain cortex involved in the thinking process is associated with a separate skill.
Most students enter graduate school with the "sensory" and "memory" skills well developed. However, they are unaware that they will fall short unless they develop the remaining skills. The graduate curriculum does not teach these skills directly - the teachers assume the students already have them developed or will develop them on their own. The result is that, for most students, progress is left up to chance. "Expert Skills" was chosen for the program title to describe the goal of choosing study methods that develop all four of the learning skill areas of the brain to better cope with the thinking needed in the classroom and the laboratory.
Only one approach shows a positive correlation with advanced skill development and that is deliberate practice. This type of practice requires that you know about your learning weaknesses and how to correct them. The ESP teaches about deliberate practice and how to apply it to learning skills and eventually to research skills.
Yes. Just follow the accordian link below that describes what to do, and it will teach you about:
- deliberate practice,
- the growth mindset,
- brain research,
- and other concepts that will help you put yourself in charge of improving your thinking.
Because this is a recent program the materials have not all been customized for graduate students. The study guide is shortened and will point out areas that you can skip over. Based on the initial experience with this page this year, new materials customized for graduate studies can be developed.
The self-study begins with an introduction to the significance of learning style and its relationship to personality type. You will then progress through a series of videos that will culminate with two videos that apply the theory to learning methods. The outcome of the self-study will be an approach to managing your time and your learning with increasing skill as you progress through graduate school. More information on the ESP is available at the Introduction to ESP video. Please keep in mind that although these materials have not been adapted from the medical version, they still apply to graduate studies.
Originally published in print form as “SuccessTypes for Medical Students: A Program
for Improving Academic Performance,” this book is no longer in print but is now available
to you free online in the updated electronic version, “SuccessTypes in Medical Education, Version 1.1.” It may be easier to relate to the medical education aspects if you
realize that physicians think exactly the same way scientists do in solving problems
and in the learning needed for problem solving.
- The comprehensive study guide for graduate students is designed to focus your reading on the most important points. It gives you something to look “for.”
- It is provided as a “doc” file, instead of “pdf,” for your convenience in keyboard recording of answer responses.
- It will help you focus on the important points to learn and will help you to use Deliberate Practice with your learning style.
- Henderson Hasselbalch concept map (used in concept mapping exercise)
- Henderson Hasselbalch text passage (used in concept mapping exercise
- Anatomy Terminology (used in concept mapping exercise)
- SuccessTypes In Medical Education handout with concept mapping examples
- Primer on Deliberate Practice (needed when answering some of the questions in this guide).
- SuccessTypes Learning Styles Type Indicator
Video 0 - Introduction to ESP for students (not covered by study guide but listed for convenience)
Video 1 - The Growth Mindset and Increasing Intelligence
Video 2 - Clinical Skill Areas of the Cortex
Video 3 - Learning Style, Personality Type, and Specialty Choice
Video 4 - Changing Your Brain to Improve Learning Skills
Video 5 - Brain Skill Development with Concept Maps
Video 6 - The Power of Us: Question Analysis Groups (QuAGs) and Mindful Learning