Automaticity and adaptive expertise are essential for airline pilots to improve Situational Awareness (SA). Without automaticity and adaptive expertise, decision-making ability is limited, reducing the pilot's ability to deal with the unexpected.
What is Automaticity and Adaptive Expertise?
Rote memorization does not guarantee the pilot understands the automatic response. Knowledge-based automaticity and adaptive expertise, however, imply a deeper level of understanding than simply memorizing. Adaptive expertise requires precise knowledge, in both quality and content, to be structurally organized in the memory, as well as required for metacognitive skills necessary for planning, monitoring, and memory.
Becoming unconsciously competent is where knowledge is at the highest level of understanding. Automaticity and adaptive expertise further differ from rote memorization because rote memorization is associated with routine experience, whereas automaticity and adaptive expertise improve performance during novel situations. Rote memorization could result in limited understanding of memorized procedures that may not transfer to the aircraft or emergencies beyond events practiced and anticipated in the simulator.
Time And Place For Rote Memorization:
With all this said, there is a time and a place for rote memorization. Practicing flows for example. I am an advocate of memorizing the procedures we call flows, or the processes, to configure the plane for flight during the many phases---preflight, before start, taxi, before takeoff, taxi, shutdown.... While we memorize where to go, understanding what we are doing while there makes the difference.
This week I have memorized my flows and procedures, but I'm working to that higher level of understanding to achieve automaticity and adaptive expertise in order to become unconsciously competent. The best thing about this goal is that everyone can work toward it as it's a moving target because in aviation, it's not possible to know everything. Just when you think you're there, you get to learn something new.
Enjoy the Journey!