Meta-effectiveness and Other Important Concepts for Understanding the Development of Competence in Adults

I’ve published on my SFU blog a glossary of terms that I consider to be essential for understanding the development of competence in adults but that are not in the mainstream of cognitive science. Some of them are unknown because I’ve just recently introduced them, in Cognitive Productivity. Some of them have simply been relatively overlooked. Others existed but I’ve redefined them. These conceptual gaps, which I’ve tried to fill, are obstacles to knowledge-based learning and to understanding such learning.

Some of these concepts will mainly be of interest to cognitive scientists. Others are also helpful to people who want to “get better at getting better.”

When I first talk to people about “learning to learn”, they tend to think that I’m trying to understand and/or help people who are in the lower 50 percent of “learners”. However, they usually quickly realize that, in fact, I’m most interested in helping people who are on the expert track or are experts already. My premise is that everyone who values the pursuit of excellent should feel challenged by the cognitive demands placed upon them. In chapter 3 of Cognitive Productivity, I describe those challenges and opportunities.

The central concept in all of this is not cognitive productivity but meta-effectiveness: that is, the abilities and propensity to use knowledge to become more effective. Effectiveness to me is a broader concept than expertise, which has a narrow technical definition. Effectiveness also encompasses expertise.

To get a handle on meta-effectiveness and related concepts, check out my SFU article on the subject.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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