Drill and Practice

What is Drill & Practice?

As an instructional strategy, drill & practice is familiar to all educators. It "promotes the acquisition of knowledge or skill through repetitive practice." It refers to small tasks such as the memorization of spelling or vocabulary words, or the practicing of arithmetic facts and may also be found in more sophicated learning tasks or physical education games and sports. Drill-and-practice, like memorization, involves repetition of specific skills, such as addition and subtraction, or spelling. To be meaningful to learners, the skills built through drill-and-practice should become the building blocks for more meaningful learning.

What is its purpose?

Drill and Practice activities help learners master materials at their own pace. Drills are usually repetitive and are used as a reinforcement tool. Effective use of drill and practice depends on the recognition of the type of skill being developed, and the use of appropriate strategies to develop these competencies. There is a place for drill and practice mainly for the beginning learner or for students who are experiencing learning problems. Its use, however, should be kept to situations where the teacher is certain that it is the most appropriate form of instruction.

How can I do it?

Drill and practice software packages offer structured reinforcement of previously learned concepts. They are based on question and answer interactions and should give the student appropriate feedback. Drill and practice packages may use games to increase motivation. Teachers who use computers to provide drill and practice in basic skills promote learning because drill and practice increases student acquisition of basic skills. In a typical software package of this type, the student is able to select an appropriate level of difficulty at which questions about specific content materials are set. In most cases the student is motivated to answer these questions quickly and accurately by the inclusion of a gaming scenario, as well as colourful and animated graphics. Good drill and practice software provides feedback to students, explains how to get the correct answer, and contains a management system to keep track of student progress.

How can I adapt it?

There has been a definite move away from paper-based drill and practice systems to computer-based systems. Drill and practice exercises with appropriate software can enhance the daily classroom experience. Given the personalized, interactive nature of most software, the computer can lend itself to providing extended, programmed practice. Used in small doses, electronic learning experiences can supplement any lesson effectively. Certain software allow students to reinforce specific skills in a certain subject area. Although not as easily integrated across the curriculum, drill and practice software can be useful. It usually comes in one of two formats. The first focuses on a specific subject area or a part of that area. The most common areas are reading and math. The second type attempts to improve skills in several areas of the curriculum. As with all other types of software, the teacher needs to determine if technology is the best way to work with the subject matter being dealt with.

Games provide child centered activities to apply problem solving strategies as well as an opportunity to practice basic skills.

Basic Skills Practice Cards can be designed to be used in many different formats. They can be used with a game board, in a lotto format or as flashcards.