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Deliberate practice

Teaching strategies

Deliberate practice: a simple strategy for teachers and teacher aides

Deliberate practice – an approach to learning a skill that is planned, reflective, goal-oriented and highly structured.

Deliberate practice being demonstrated.

‘Deliberate practice’ is a term used to describe an approach to learning a skill that is planned, reflective, goal-oriented and highly structured. Deliberate practice is a continual push for performance improvement that is usually achieved by practising small parts of the task until each part is perfected.

Deliberate practice is a continual push for performance improvement that is usually achieved by practising small parts of the task until each part is perfected.

Deliberate practice is a type of self-directed, independent learning activity used by highly motivated people seeking to master a skill or task. A person who repeats an activity will get better at performing that task, at least up to a certain point. After that point, ability plateaus and the rate of improvement slows to a trickle. Take for example a person who wants to learn to play golf. At first this person learns as much as they can and in no time, they are comfortably playing golf without embarrassing themselves. At this point, the golfer is content and the conscious effort to improve disappears. In 10 years from now this person is only marginally better than today. Merely playing golf every week will not result in significant improvement.

Deliberate practice requires the golfer to set specific goals, to break the task into smaller pieces, and to study, practise and perfect each piece of their game. It also requires them to seek and apply new information and advice from others. Coaches may be used for added advice and support. The golfer identifies their weaknesses and applies solutions. They are always looking for an edge. Each aspect is slowly and methodically practised – the golfer aims for a technically perfect swing. Video recordings are analysed in slow motion to find problem spots.

Whole-part-whole learning

Whole-part-whole learning – the teacher first demonstrates a task (the ‘whole’), students then learn the task one step (part) at a time, and then combine all the steps (staggered at first – more fluidly with practice).

Whole-part-whole learning is the combination of 2 strategies: whole learning and part learning. Whole learning is when a task is learned as a fluid single activity. For example, a person learns to juggle 3 balls by actually juggling 3 balls. Part learning is when a task is initially learnt in separate steps. Whole-part-whole learning involves 3 basic steps:

  1. The teacher demonstrates the task at normal speed (normal for an expert).
  2. The student learns the task in parts under the guidance of the teacher.
  3. Once all parts are mastered to a sufficient level, they are combined and practised together.

About the author

Image of the managing director of ITAC.

ADAM GREEN

Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.

Source: Teaching Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners. Amazon #1 best seller in the category of Classroom Management.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to check his article for accuracy, information may be outdated, inaccurate or not relevant to you and your location/employer/contract. It is not intended as legal or professional advice. Users should seek expert advice such as by contacting the relevant education department, should make their own enquiries, and should not rely on any of the information provided.

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