Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Productive Persistence, Explicit Connections, and Deliberate Practice

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is promoting three key underpinnings to the Statway™ lesson design:  productive persistence, explicit connections, and deliberate practice.

The ideas are intertwined, but of the three, deliberate practice is the hardest to grasp.

Hiebert and Grouws found that mere student engagement was not enough for a program to succeed. The students actually needed to grapple and struggle with their mathematics in all the programs that were successful in achieving high student learning.   That is, all the successful programs fostered productive persistence among the students.

Nor are well-designed, challenging activities necessarily enough for student learning.  Students need to have the connections between what they are doing and desired mathematical learning goals to be made explicit.

But the very phrase "deliberate practice" seems to give the wrong impression.

Most math teachers are familiar with exercise sets consisting essentially of minor variations of the same skill.  Working such exercise sets is not deliberate practice. 

Deliberate practice is not about repetition and drill.  The goal of deliberate practice is not simply to  master a procedure within a fixed context or to acquire automaticity, but rather to broaden the student's understanding of concepts through an organized set of tasks designed to challenge the student to synthesize and extend ideas previously learned.

The Statway™ webinar featuring Jim Stigler and Karen Givvin discussing productive persistence, explicit connections, and deliberate practice was recorded.