THIS ARTICLE IS PART OF THE RESEARCH TOPIC Macrocognition: The Science and Engineering of Sociotechnical Work Systems

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Accelerating expert performance has frustrated many researchers and trainers in human factors, naturalistic decision-making, sport science, and expertise studies – with insufficient application of expert performance theories, findings and methods to the training macrocognitive aspects of human performance. Video-occlusion methods perfected by sports expertise researchers can have great utility, in some cases offering an effective and inexpensive alternative to high-fidelity simulation. The problem seems to be that expertise research done in laboratory and field settings doesn’t get adequately translated into workplace training. So, this article presents a framework for better linkage of expertise research/training across laboratory, field, and workplace settings. It uses a field-based case study to trace the development and implementation of a macrocognitive training program in the very challenging workplace of the baseball batters’ box. This training embedded for a full season in a college baseball team targets the perceptual-cognitive skill of pitch recognition that allows expert batters to circumvent limitations of human reaction time to hit 90 mile-per-hour sliders. While baseball batting has few analogous skills outside of sports, the operational principle of the training program has wider applicability and implications. Its core operational principle, supported by information processing models but challenged by ecological models, de-couples the perception-action link for targeted part-task training of the perception component, much in the same way that motor components are routinely isolated to leverage instructional efficiencies. After targeted training, perception and action are recoupled via transfer-appropriate tasks that have been inspired by in situ research tasks. In the case reported here, and potentially in many domains beyond sports, part-task perceptual-cognitive training improved macrocognitive skills and full-skill performance.