Practice for Knowledge Acquisition (Not Drill and Kill)
Designing activities with the goal of transferring knowledge

What is the topic?

Mary Brabeck, PhD, NYU
Jill Jeffrey, PhD, Research Scientist

It doesn’t matter what subject you teach, differences in students’ performance are affected by how much they practice. Researchers who have investigated expert and novice performance have uncovered important distinctions between deliberate practice and other activities, such as work, play and rote repetition. Rote repetition — simply repeating a task — will not automatically improve performance. Effective practice is deliberate. It involves attention, rehearsal and repetition and leads to new knowledge or skills that can later be developed into more complex knowledge and skills.

Formal definition of practice (Gobet & Campitelli, 2007)

“Deliberate practice consists of activities purposely designed to improve performance. These activities typically require effort and are not enjoyable. Most students are incapable of working on practice activities for long periods of time” (Gobet & Campitelli, 2007, p. 160).