Tuesday, 13 March 2012

"Deliberate practice" - another way of "flipping the classroom"?

I came across an article suggesting that "deliberate practice" is a more effective way of teaching students than the traditional lecture. I've not heard of deliberate practice so I decided to investigate.

According to the article, the deliberate practice method involves the tutor providing students with a multiple-choice question on a given topic. The students then discuss the question in small groups before providing their answer electronically, presumably using a clicker tool or polling application. The tutor can then see their level of understanding about the topic; he answers the question by way of a short discussion before moving on to the next topic.

This sounds great, and it's certainly something I'm going to try myself, but isn't this similar to the concept of 'flipping the classroom' as suggested by Salman Khan in his seminal TED talk? Khan's method of using video to deliver core content as a means to free up the face-to-face time for more constructive discussion is a powerful new way to enhance student learning. The article on deliberate practice indicated that students exposed to this method of teaching did more than twice as well in a test than those in the traditional lecture setting. The phenomenal impact of the Khan Academy's approach to teaching also suggests that technology now provides a legitimate way to challenge the centuries-old method of teaching that is the lecture.

Educators such as George Siemens and Stephen Downes are also challenging Higher Education to with their concept of Massive Open Online Courses. With students able to access unlimited content online, universities are increasingly under pressure to justify the very nature of their existence. Maybe changing the dynamic of the traditional lecture using 'deliberate practice' or by 'flipping the classroom' will be enough to quell the unrest.

Let's hope that more research is conducted in this area.

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