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Importance of Practice & Feedback in Education

When you were a child, how did you learn how to ride a bike?

Did your dad or mom (or whomever taught you) sit you down, grab a piece of paper and write down the steps of what you should do? Did they draw a diagram with equations of how fast to move your legs? Maybe they told you that you should know how to do this, and to go figure it out on your own?

I would safely guess no, they didn’t.

practice & feedback

The focus is not just on content delivery; it’s a cycle of instruction, implementation, practice, and feedback.

They probably gave you some tips beforehand, went outside with you, sat you on the bike, and started instructing. Then, you immediately began practicing.

I would also bet that you did not get it on your first try. They probably provided you with some feedback. Maybe they told you to sit up straighter to help your balance, or to not pedal so slow or so fast. Then, you finally got the hang of it after many practice runs.

Your success came from a combination of instruction, practice and feedback.

Practice & Feedback: Real-Life Proof

The graph below illustrates the results from a study1 of Olympic-level figure skaters during their training sessions. The skaters were recorded attempting an average of sixty elements (jumps, spins) in an hour of training.

practice & feedback graphThen, a whiteboard was brought onto the ice; their coaches tallied the number of jumps and spins within their view. The result?

When practice elements were recorded, the average number of practice elements nearly doubled. The next day, the whiteboard was removed and the number dropped again to sixty.

When the whiteboard returned for the second time, the number of attempts rose. Once again, they almost doubled.

When these skaters saw the feedback, they practiced more. This could only result in their implementation getting better. It is a chain of events that gets better outcomes every time.

How Does This Relate to Study Skills?

This is how learning study skills needs to work. It’s just like learning how to ride a bike. It needs to be the same type of sensations the figure skaters experienced.

The focus is not just on content delivery; it’s a cycle of instruction, implementation, practice, and feedback. Practice and feedback is crucial so students actually learn study skills. It is the only way students become masters at implementing the study skills they learn. Without it, the instruction will be in one ear and out the other.

Even educational legislation and organizations realize this! The Workforce Investment Act2, which funds youth services programs (like study skills trainings) in Ohio, says a study skills program must have the following to “qualify” for funding:

  • Lecture with practice
  • Feedback after practice

WIA realizes that without practice and feedback, there is truly no value in a study skills course.

Of course, we here at SOAR® see the value in practice and feedback. That’s why we now provide more practice and feedback to students then we ever have before.

Our new SOAR® Learning & Soft Skills App has multiple practice opportunities within each concept they learn. They even get immediate feedback on how they did, so they can learn from their mistakes or celebrate their merit.

In addition, we put quizzes at the end of every lesson, to ensure understanding of the material. There are now many ways your student(s) can interact with our curriculum, to ensure increased and proper implementation.

We have made our SOAR App easily available to you whether you are an educator looking for a whole class curriculum, or a parent wanting to help your child at home.

To learn more about how your student(s) can get instruction, practice, and feedback all in one place, click here.

Sincerely,

Jessie

1 Results of study and graph courtesy of: Dan Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., ABPP
Vice President, Clinical Services, Wellspring
Director, Center for Behavioral Medicine & Sport Psychology
Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Medical School
211 E. Ontario St., Suite 1150
Chicago, IL 60611

2 https://jfs.ohio.gov/owd/WorkforceProf/Youth/Docs/Elements_WIA_Youth_Program.pdf

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