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Practice is the foundation for effective learning. Yet, simple observation is more complex to do.
Good practice is possible with the see-do-feedback loop:
Decades of research show that experts get good by acquiring tons of specific patterns of knowledge.
One specific study by Graham Cooper and John Sweller showed that when students were given examples where the problems were worked step-by-step and the solution provided were better able to solve test problems than those who did not get examples. The reason is that when you learn a pattern, it is less cognitively taxing.
Watching alone is not effective. Knowledge needs to become an automatic skill to be useful.
Practice is not just for physical skills. A study by Jeffrey Karpicke and Janelle Blunt showed that students that recalled a passage they've read did much better on a test than those who re-read the passage several times.
The best approach to learning is to see a few examples of the pattern to be learned, then practice without examples so you can perform from memory.
You need to get feedback on your practice. If the problem is straightforward, seeing the correct solution is enough. But skills with gradations of performance or more subjective measures of success need a teacher, tutor or coach for feedback.
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