Harder Practice Leads to Better Performance

Topic(s): job performance, learning, training
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2013)
Article: Learner-controlled practice difficulty in the training of a complex task: Cognitive and motivational mechanisms
Authors: Michael G. Hughes, Eric Anthony Day, Xiaoqian Wang, Matthew J. Schuelke, Matthew L. Arsenault, Lauren N. Harkrider, and Olivia D. Cooper
Reviewed by: Scott Charles Sitrin

The intensity and difficulty of practice relates to job performance. This finding was empirically supported by a recent study. Research participants were learning how to play a video game; those who chose difficult practice sessions tended to play the video game at a higher level than those who chose easier practice sessions. Further, the researchers give us insight into who was likely to select difficult types of practices: those who were smart, had prior video-game experience, were self-confident, and were told that making errors is an essential part of learning were more likely to choose to engage in difficult types of practice. Some of these factors are out of our control, but not all. These findings give us greater insight into how to help in-person and virtual learners out there get the most out of their practice – and therefore, performance.