Deliberate Practice: What it is and what it isn’t

The deliberate practice secrets of expertise are fascinating. How does it translate to educational practice? See Ericsson & Pool ‘Peak’, the closing chapter ‘Where do we go from here’? (Wieman’s experiment). Deserves more attention.

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Mirjam Neelen & P.A. Kirschner

What does it take to become an expert? According to the influential deliberate practice theory, achieving expert performance requires a vast amount of deliberate practice. The term “deliberate practice” is used abundantly in the world of learning and education. However, as with many ‘magic words’ (Learning analytics! Grit! Mindset!), they are often incorrectly understood, explained, and/or applied (and sometimes they’re just plain nonsense).

Deliberate practice versus ‘just practice’

Patti Shank, well-known learning expert, researcher, and writer wrote a blog on deliberate practice back in May 2016 where she points out that people who are trying to improve their level of expertise set specific goals to improve their skills. However, in order for this practice to be ‘deliberate’ it actually needs to be taken a number of steps further.

According to Anders Ericsson (1993), who coined the term and has researched it for over 30 years

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