Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stop practicing pronunciation! (If your students can explore it!)

This is a follow up on, "Stop correcting pronunciation! (If your students can afford it!)," based on a post by Tabaczynski. Question: Does (more) practice make perfect, or at least make one better than the competition? A couple recent summaries of meta-analyses by Science Digest add support to Tabaczynksi's argument, suggesting . . . well . . . maybe not so much.

Macnamara, Hambrick and Oswald (2014) note that: 

"Practice accounted for about 26% of individual differences in performance for games, about 21% of individual differences in music, and about 18% of individual differences in sports. But it only accounted for about 4% of individual differences in education and less than 1% of individual differences in performance in professions."

Stafford and Dewar (2013) add that: 

"Game play data revealed that those players who seemed to learn more quickly had either spaced out their practice or had more variable early performance -- suggesting they were exploring how the game works -- before going on to perform better."

Clip art:
Clker
Haptic pronunciation teaching methodology certainly aims to be more embodied, incorporating frameworks and techniques from gaming, music and sports. It is also pretty consistent with Tabaczynski's "(schematic) buckets and spaced (practice and scaffolded) retrieval" proposal.

Think I'll stop right there . . .



4 comments:

Tom Tabaczynski said...

The authors of "Make It Stick", whom I follow in my piece, do discuss the issue of memorisation and practice and when it's appropriate. It's not clear what practice means in 'education'. They do cite an experiment of using retrieval practice in a school which did make a significant difference, but their argument is precisely that retrieval practice is not utilised in education and that it should be (the main point of the book), so persumably a meta-study of non-existent methodology isn't going to show anything. I would say that the same might be said for the professions.

So the conclusion to be drawn might be that the reason that practice makes a difference in games, music, and sport is that it is in fact utilised in these field, and that it should be utilised education and the professions. Morevoer, the main question is really what kind of practice: repetition or retrieval practice. Mere repetition, eg., by reviewing the material, they argue, doesn't work.

Tom Tabaczynski said...

Thought provoking post, Bill. The question of practice is an interesting one. I did notice that you don't recommend excessive repetiiton in individual sessions, but there are spaced out sessions for each module with a good amount of repetition over a couple of weeks.

The authors of "Make It Stick", whom I follow in my piece, do discuss the issue of memorisation and practice and when it's appropriate. It's not clear what practice means in 'education'. They do cite an experiment of using retrieval practice in a school which did make a significant difference, but their argument is precisely that retrieval practice in the form of low-stakes quizzes is not utilised in education and that it should be (one of the main points of the book), so persumably a meta-study of non-existent methodology isn't going to show anything. I would say that the same might be said for the professions.

So the conclusion to be drawn might be that the reason that practice makes a difference in games, music, and sport is that it is in fact utilised in these fields, and that it should be utilised education and the professions. Moreover, the main question is really what kind of practice: repetition or retrieval practice. Mere repetition, eg., by reviewing the material, they argue, doesn't work (another major point of the book).

Bill Acton said...

Point well taken. I highly recommend "Make it Stick"http://www.amazon.ca/Make-It-Stick-Successful-Learning/dp/0674729013. The two studies cited did NOT imply that practice was not beneficial in pronunciation work, only that more does not necessarily translate into better results. In the next blogpost, I'll take the same Idea and relate to the practice of assigning pronunciation homework--and then not following up on it or even being interested in what goes on "out there."

Tom Tabaczynski said...

Just had a closer look at the article you cite and had this thought: authors of Make It Stick make the same criticism of the 10,000 hour rule, but draw a completely different conclusion: it's the KIND of practice that makes the difference: spaced, retrieval and mixed up, as opposed to mere reviewing and repetition.

As for "what goes out 'out there'", I'd be interested in your thoughts on the use of completion tracking feature of Moodle for monitoring what does on.

btw. I think you can delete my earlier comment above.

Post a Comment