6.5. Drill and practice

Drill-and-practice activities repeatedly exercise a simple or small area of knowledge. They are like the flash cards used to teach multiplication or a foreign language vocabulary.

Drill-and-practice activities build on a simple testing cycle. The system presents a problem, which the learner tries to solve. The system provides feedback on the learner's solution before posing another problem. Then the cycle repeats.

6.5.1. When to use drill and practice

Educational theorists of late have so thoroughly condemned drill and practice that it is easy to believe that this method has no use whatsoever. However, drill and practice is very useful in helping people memorize facts that they must be able to recall reliably without hesitation. Some examples include:

  • Foreign language vocabulary

  • Sign language

  • Symbols, emblems, and signs used in a profession

  • Spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules

  • Syntax of a programming language

Use drill and practice to help people learn the simple rules and procedures that they must apply unconsciously as part of higher-level activities.

6.5.2. How drill and practice works

A drill-and-practice activity starts with an introduction that welcomes learners and explains how the activity works. Then learners repeatedly solve problems and receive feedback on their solutions. At the end, learners review what they have learned and try applying it in a more realistic situation.

6.5.3. Example of drill and practice

This drill and practice teaches ...

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