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Welcome back Troubleshooters! We’ve previously looked at the steps needed to acquire a new skill before it can be practiced. Today we’ll be reviewing a concept known as “deep practice.”

Practice occurs along a broad spectrum of effectiveness. Sometimes, you experience the perfect session where everything clicks, and everyone is engaged and working productively. Sometimes you don’t and there’s no progress made at all. When there’s no progress, maybe it’s time to look at how you’re practicing. 

Deep Practice 

There is increasing evidence that “deep practice” allows people to learn and practice more effectively. In simplest of terms, deep practice is a way of attentive practice. Here is the basic formula:

Deep practice = mindful practice + increasing challenge + strategic feedback

Discussed in the book, The Talent Code, Dan Coyle theorizes that deep practice is a key to mastery and top performance. The key to effective practice is to keep the level of difficulty in the sweet spot—neither too hard nor too easy—so that learners are constantly on the edge of their ability. Coyle’s deep practice is characterized by three things: mindfulness, challenge and feedback.

Mindful Practice is a systematic and highly structured activity. It is an active and thoughtful process of hypothesis testing where we thoughtfully seek solutions to clearly defined problems.

Increasing Challenge focuses on the learner working at the edge of their ability in order to master the skill. It’s important to note here that failure is more than likely because without challenge, the brain lazes into its comfort zone and reinforces current abilities.

Strategic Feedback is when the learner is provided feedback on how to better execute their skills.

Everyone is capable of mastering skills. The trick is knowing how to master them. Deep practice equals skill mastery in three steps.

  1. Select the specific skill or task to master and have learners try it. Doing so allows you to evaluate the gap between the learner’s current ability and their end goal. When you know this, start again.
  2. Divide the skill or task into its digestible components or ‘chunks’ to both practice and memorize separately. Then, once learned, have the learner link the chunks together in progressively larger groupings.
  3. The last step is to play with time by slowing the action down and then speeding it up. Slowing down helps learners to attend more closely to errors, creating a higher degree of precision.

Acknowledging mistakes is essential for learning and making progress. It is this error-focused element of deep practice that makes it a struggle. It allows the user to stretch their knowledge and can be frustrating but will ultimately lead to growth.

It goes without saying that building and retaining skill required continued deep practice. Learners practice to become proficient, and they practice to keep those skills up.

Simulated Training and Practice

Take, for example, an apprentice learning the skill of electrical troubleshooting from a journeyman. The apprentice will first watch and learn. Next, the apprentice will try on their own. The journeyman will provide advice and comments when mistakes happen. This process of practice and feedback will eventually give the apprentice the skills required to effectively troubleshoot.

Much like the analogy explained, Simutech’s Training System works as a journeyman providing advice and feedback. From day one, this electrical troubleshooting system has been designed for electricians and maintenance professionals alike to master the skill of electrical troubleshooting and maintain those skills through practice.

For example, users of the system start with the Troubleshooting Electrical Circuits program.

In this module, users learn Simutech’s 5-Step Systematic Approach to electrical troubleshooting. Once through the initial learning portion of the module, users move on to exercises where they can apply the systematic approach in a simulated environment.

The Electrical Troubleshooting Simulations

Each of the fault simulation exercises are critical learning components for users of the system. Each fault begins with a work order, much like real life, where the user must evaluate and fix the fault.

Guided Faults

The guided faults provide a walkthrough of the simulations and allow users to start applying the systematic approach to the fault challenges. It’s like having a journeyman walk users through every step of the process.

Practice Faults

As users become more comfortable, they move to the practice faults. As the title implies, this is a critical junction in practice. Users work more independently in this section. They see the work order and must solve the fault within a reasonable amount of time, replacing as few components as possible.

These faults are critical for users. When mistakes are made, they receive instant feedback on the error. At the end of the exercise, an evaluation is provided, which shows the results and areas for improvement.

Skill Testing Faults

Like guided and practice faults, the skill testing faults simulate real world environments. Users are provided with a work order to start. The test is based on the length of time it takes to correct the fault and how many components are replaced in the process.

In order to improve skills, practice must take place. With Simutech’s simulated training technology, users can engage in deep practice and retain skills more easily. Get a free demo today! 

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