Purposeful Practice needs Reviewing


Practising is working long hours to improve – which in turn means to develop automaticity.  There is the popularised focus on talent requiring 10 000 hours of practice.  But this is just one aspect of the equation.  To gain the benefits, we must practice with purposeful intention, and reflect on our performance to make corrections.


“You don’t get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal” (Ericsson)
  • For the learner this requires concentration and focus.
  • For the educator, there needs to be clinical & accurate feedback.
The optimal type of attention is top-down, which means there needs to be consistent reviewing of performance. The top focus for improving involves the teacher finding out what are the student’s goals and pushing the learner to exceed these expectations (Hattie).

Recalling and remembering information.

The learners who have great recall are able to associate information easily in their memories. They are the learners who ‘just get’ their times tables or spelling words. Learners with a full capacity for remembering will often have a wonderful general knowledge, and a head for facts and dates.  They are quick to throw their hands up in class to answer a question. However, the educator must always consider purposefully  differences in learners.  There are reflective learners, who are more introverted.  These learners may also be very good at recall but they need more time to process.  This is why much research suggests our questioning in class needs to wait for at least 8 seconds to get deep thinking happening.
We also need to consider the variations in verbal capacity.  Some students are very quick to discuss and make comment.  These same students may not be so thorough when it comes to writing.  A teacher needs to be able to offer diverse opportunities to cater for the capacity range of all students.

Remembering with Mnemonics

A key mental capacity in reviewing purposefully is Remembering.  How do we develop the mental capacity and alacrity to remember better? Since the age of the Ancient Greek civilisation, there has been a focus on recall.  The Greeks adopted different methods – referred to as mnemonics.  Teachers should carefully consider how to maximise our learners’ memory.


Weblinks to support purposeful practice