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Category Archive: deliberate practice

If we want to get real good at something we have to work real hard

zwoegenA few days ago I spoke to a manager who told me that she had had a conversation with a subordinate in which she had communicated some clear expectations she had of him. She told me that she had found it quite hard to prepare for the conversation. In this conversation she had used our technique of progress-focused directing. With this approach you formulate very specifically what you expect of the subordinate (this is called your expectation) and you give a clear reason for your expectation (this is called the rationale). This manager told me that, during her preparation, she had found it hard to formulate the rationale. She said she had made it quite difficult for herself and that she made her rationale very complex at first. Only at the end of her preparation she had managed to formulate her rationale in a brief and simple way. When she told me this, I asked her whether the conversation had led to the desired result. She said it had and added: “But I wonder why I make things so hard and difficult during my preparation.” Click here to read more »

The more you know about something, the more relevant deliberate practice becomes for further learning

Levels of knowledge and deliberate practice
Pachman, Mariya; Sweller, John; Kalyuga, Slava


Abstract: This study examined the influence of deliberate practice, defined as practice specifically aimed at learners’ weak areas and only their weak areas, on 8th graders performance in geometry. A control group had a choice over practice problems and their sequencing. Experiment 1 indicated a disordinal practice schedule by knowledge interaction. Simple effects tests indicated that the interaction was primarily caused by less knowledgeable learners benefiting more from a self-selected practice schedule than deliberate practice. Two subsequent experiments explored the cognitive mechanisms behind this effect by using learners with different levels of prior knowledge. Whereas the relatively more knowledgeable learners in Experiment 2 benefited by concentrating only on their weak areas during practice, the less knowledgeable learners in Experiment 3 improved their skills when they practiced on problem sets combining some of their weak and some of their strong areas or by concentrating on only a limited number of weak areas for a given problem area. These findings have important implications for the design of curriculum materials and implementation of deliberate practice techniques in secondary classrooms. Prior to attaining a sufficient level of familiarity with the subject matter, learners should be encouraged to continue practicing in areas in which they have some degree of competence. Only after competence is attained in several related areas should an exclusive emphasis be placed on practice in weak areas only.

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