T&D: The Four Stages of Competence

Originally the 4 Stages of Learning

I first learned of this model back in 1979 – but did not know its origin until I read the 3-STAR LEARNING EXPERIENCES Blog post of last month.

My adaptation of this…


The Wikipedia take on this…

The Four Stages of Learning provides a model for learning. It suggests that individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or unconscious of their incompetence. As they recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, then consciously use it. Eventually, the skill can be utilized without it being consciously thought through: the individual is said to have then acquired unconscious competence.

SMEs Cannot Be Trusted

This relates to why interviewing an SME is problematic – as they operate on autopilot on most things – and can miss up to 70% of what a Novice needs – which is why a Pilot Test is almost always a great thing to do – before rollout or making Performance Support and other Learning Content accessible.

I use a Facilitated Group Process to minimize this issue. Others use Cognitive Task Analysis.

And always Pilot Test!

The Research on SMEs


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