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Exploring "Deep Practice" & How it Influences Student Learning

June 17, 2022
StudySmart Team
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School students are practising writing in the notebook in the classroom.

Practice Makes Perfect. But How?

We've all grown up hearing these words, "Practice makes perfect." How true is this statement? Let's go back to those nostalgic moments when you hopped onto your bicycle for the first time. Did you just take off like a pro or lose your balance and fall? The latter is the more likely scenario. However, riding a bicycle today wouldn't be as challenging. That's because you've practiced the task and perfected the skill.

You can only build skills by fully engaging yourself in the task. It's an active process, not a passive one. It's easy to learn more in less time if you're highly targeted and error-focused during your practice sessions. In other words, you have to "Deep Practice."

Deep Practice: What Does it Mean?

You are mistaken if you assumed that all practice is equal. Deep practice is a notch above the average effort one makes to acquire skills to master a task. It is a special skill-building method that allows you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, analyze your errors, make adjustments, and redo the process until you attain perfection.

Although it may seem like a time-consuming effort, this kind of repetitive, focused practice delivers the best results.

What is this sudden attention on "deep practice?" How did this concept materialize, and what makes it different from regular practice?

Let's deal with one question at a time. The deep practice has been under the spotlight since the early 90s when Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson linked "deliberate practice" to better performance and mastery of skills. "Deliberate practice" comprises a host of activities like:

  • Acceptance of critical feedback.
  • Improving techniques based on feedback.
  • Perfecting pitfalls and weaknesses.

Over the years, writers, psychologists, and researchers have analyzed this concept with elite performers across a wide range of disciplines.

How does Deep Practice differ from regular practice? To understand Deep Practice, we must first understand three facts about our brain.

1. Neurons

The neurons are the brain cells responsible for transmitting information to other cells across the body.

2. Synapses

It is the point of contact between neurons through which information is passed.

Two students in school are learning using a digital tablet with the assistance of a teacher.

3. Myelin

Myelin is the insulating sheath that wraps around nerve fibres of the brain. It is responsible for increasing signal strength between neurons, the accuracy of the information, and the speed of delivery.

To perform even the most mundane task, your brain must have the right neurons and synapses firing. When you start practicing a particular task, your physical, mental, and emotional aspects harmonize to form a particular circuit. Your myelin wraps around that circuit, optimizes it, and provides a clear path to bridge the messages between your mind and body. Deep Practice is born from this center point of integral learning, where the ability to perform a task develops deeper and faster.

Myelin reinforces whatever you often do- whether it is correct or not. That's why it is important to practice anything the right way and rectify mistakes as you progress. This is what Deep Practice is all about.

Also Read : Focus- Why is it Important for PSLE Exams?

The 3 Rules of Deep Practice

Deep Practice is based on three basic rules.

Rule 1: Chunk it up

"Chunk it up" basically means breaking down a task into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Whether it is something as simple as learning to play the guitar, drive a car, or delegate projects to your team, start by observing the task as a whole and break it into smaller chunks. It will help you spot minor and major errors and rectify them on time. In the end, you spend time working only on skills that really matter.

Rule 2: Repeat it

Practice, practice, practice. There are no two ways about it. If you want to perfect something, all you need is practice. Deep practice cannot thrive on sporadic efforts. Sustained improvement requires consistent, diligent practice. Moreover, the amount of time you spend in repetitive practice also counts.

Rule 3: Feel it

When you are first learning to master a skill, you are bound to feel a little "off." However, this moment is when you should not give up. Even when the task feels a little "off" and out of your grasp, you must have the discipline to go back to it and repeat the task until it feels right.

All easier said than done. But this is what it takes to master deep practice. Therefore, after a few deep practices, you shouldn't feel discouraged if you feel physically or mentally exhausted.

Now let's train our focus on Primary students. Deep practice can do wonders for students aspiring to score big in their PSLE. Let's analyze how it can be done.

5 Ways Deep Practice Helps Students Study Better

  1. Deep practice helps master skills that take months to practice. Using deep practice, students can learn to master skills in weeks or even days. Of course, it requires plenty of discipline, but it is not impossible.
  2. The method is a savior for students with poor Math skills. It helps improve problem-solving, computation, and critical thinking. Students learn through repeated practice and re-assessment while receiving immediate feedback.
  3. Deep practice means concentrating fully on a defined goal that is within their reach while receiving constant feedback throughout the process to reassess and realign their goals.
  4. Deep Practice enables better thinking and boosts memory retention, thanks to the neural insulation of the myelin. The repetitive practice causes the neural insulation to thicken and grow around the axons, connecting the brain's neurons. As a result, the neural network grows stronger and lasts longer.
  5. Deep Practice is a good reminder that mastery of any skill requires repetitive practice and trained focus. Besides, learning and development are continuous processes. But, it is the best way to learn, grow, build our skills, and achieve perfection in what we do.

Practice for PSLE with StudySmart, Singapore

PSLE preparation requires extensive practice and diligent effort. Why don't you make it easier for your child by giving them the StudySmart advantage? Want a free trial? Call us right now!

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