Developing Human Capital: Success and Failure in Learning
Psychologists in the past have conceptualized talent as an IQ-like cognitive ability , and practice focused on the view of human achievements to be limited by innate characteristics . Human cognitive processing is indeed universally depending on sensory abilities, often biased and unaware of its own mechanisms, and limited to a relatively bounded range of working memory capacity . However, these innate factors are not directly encoding skills, but the development of human expertise rather relies on whether or not and how experience and training are happening .
Ericsson, Prietula, and Cokely (2007)  describe “deliberate practice” , which is the direction of efforts towards learning something that can’t be done well yet as compared to an already familiar task. Deliberate thinking develops the concentration and accepting consideration of even painful feedback (people tend to over-estimate their skills and performance) to practice new things that are, therefore, more challenging to approach . Learning outside of one’s comfort zone has been found favorable for reaping the benefits from brain plasticity allowing for ongoing cognitive health even in older age .
The development of cognitive abilities needs practice because it is, for example, relying on stored contextual information for improved anticipation and decision-making . The so-called psychological support skills are more domain-general, can respectively have to be learned too though, improve motivation, attention, and anxiety, and comprise of mental abilities such as imagery, self-talk, relaxation skills, goals setting, and organizing . Also, spatial abilities have been found supportive of developing expertise in science, technology, and engineering education .
Self-efficacy and motivation
Performance achievement requires self-confidence in one’s ability to learn. For any learning, it is vital to develop this life-skill of self-efficacy . Self-efficacy helps develop a stronger sense of hope and purpose of life . The attribution of failure to controllable factors (such as one’s development of abilities) causes individuals to think more positively, being more motivated and perseverant, and perform more successfully . While available to all, proactive personalities might access self-efficacy more easily though . The so-called Deep Layer Learning Motivation (i.e., the interest in internal motivation, as opposed to external motivators) is positively related to learning performance and self-efficacy . All this taken together, the possibility of creating an upward spiral for developing human capital exists through the mutually reinforcing effects of positive self-belief, intrinsic motivation, and successful learning achievement.
Creating a supportive environment
How a student, including the gifted , perceives the supportiveness of his/her learning environment, e.g., colleagues, family, and teachers, influences the motivation for self-directed engagement . This demonstrates the importance of a practice-friendly design of learning environments . The Triarchic Model of Grit has been evaluated a valid and reliable tool for measuring talent development self-efﬁcacy and has recently added the dimension of ‘adaptability to situations’ to the already established dimensions of ‘perseverance of effort’ and ‘consistency of interests’ . This could be especially useful to assess a conception of talent (respectively ability) that is seen as a more multi-dimensional function of person-environment interactions ensuring that educational policies and programs are consequently designed and promoted as opportunities for all .
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