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De­liber­ate Practice

TagLast edit: 14 Oct 2020 17:02 UTC by abramdemski

De­liber­ate prac­tice is the high­est form of prac­tice ac­cord­ing to An­ders Eric­s­son and Robert Pool (the au­thors of the book Peak). Based on the sci­en­tific study of ex­per­tise, they clas­sify sev­eral forms of prac­tice. From less to more effec­tive:

  1. Naive prac­tice. You prac­tice mu­sic by play­ing it. You prac­tice medicine by do­ing it. You prac­tice driv­ing by do­ing it. Eric­s­son and Pool cite stud­ies show­ing that this is not very effec­tive at in­creas­ing, or even main­tain­ing, skill. Doc­tors are (on av­er­age) at their best shortly af­ter get­ting out of med­i­cal school, and grad­u­ally de­cline in skill there­after de­spite their con­tin­u­ing “prac­tice” of medicine. Similar ob­ser­va­tions ap­ply to other skills.

  2. Pur­pose­ful prac­tice. This is prac­tice which (1) has well-defined goals (such as do­ing some­thing 3 times in a row with no mis­takes), (2) is fo­cused (the per­son is in­tently in­ter­ested in im­prov­ing, rather than hav­ing their at­ten­tion el­se­where), (3) in­volves feed­back, (4) in­volves get­ting out of one’s com­fort zone, prac­tic­ing things on the edge of one’s abil­ity.

  3. De­liber­ate prac­tice. On top of the re­quire­ments for pur­pose­ful prac­tice, de­liber­ate prac­tice is in­formed by an un­der­stand­ing of how to do well. In the best case, this un­der­stand­ing is con­ferred by a pro­fes­sional teacher (a “coach”). This teacher will be able to eval­u­ate where a stu­dent sits with re­spect to the var­i­ous nec­es­sary sub-skills, recom­mend spe­cific prac­tice tasks to im­prove sub-skills which are lack­ing, and give ad­vice about how to im­prove tech­nique.

The au­thors note that pur­pose­ful prac­tice can re­sult in get­ting stuck if you learn bad form (they don’t use that term, but what they de­scribe is very close to the con­cept of “good form” from the CFAR hand­book (page 19)). Bad form means that prac­tice is ul­ti­mately in­still­ing bad habits, even if it cre­ates lo­cal im­prove­ment. Good form means that prac­tice is tak­ing you down the path to mas­tery in an effi­cient man­ner.

Due to the ne­ces­sity of hav­ing an ex­pe­rienced teacher, de­liber­ate prac­tice re­quires a highly de­vel­oped field. How­ever, it is also com­mon to use the term “de­liber­ate prac­tice” for any­thing which is dis­t­in­guished from pur­pose­ful prac­tice by the pres­ence of a the­ory of skill and prac­tice guided by that the­ory, whether or not that the­ory is tried-and-true, and whether or not an ex­pe­rienced teacher is in­volved.

De­liber­ate Prac­tice for De­ci­sion Making

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Over­cor­rect­ing As De­liber­ate Practice

lifelonglearner1 Jun 2020 6:26 UTC
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Epistemic Spot Check: The Role of De­liber­ate Prac­tice in the Ac­qui­si­tion of Ex­pert Performance

Elizabeth25 Jun 2019 23:00 UTC
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8 comments4 min readLW link
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