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Nobel Prize Winner in Physics Examines Teaching Strategies: Deliberate Practice

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0b013e3182297cda
Departments: News, Notes and Tips

Nobel prize winning physicist, Carl Wieman, received accolades in the scientific world when he reiterated that lectures are not an effective method of teaching and that students learn better when they are active participants in the learning process. He developed an educational approach, deliberate practice, that involves students having to "think like scientists" and figure out solutions to problems during class time. The deliberate practice strategy begins when students are provided with a multiple-choice question addressing a specific concept. Students work in groups to choose the correct answer to the question. The instructor then examines the answers chosen and addresses misconceptions related to the concept. Jere Confrey, an education researcher, noted that students in deliberate practice classes are not just gathering data but also putting information together to address important questions and issues.

When students in the deliberate practice group were compared to a control group made up of students participating in a traditional lecture-type class in physics, students in the experimental section were more engaged, liked better the interactive strategy, and performed twice as well on a 12-question multiple-choice test related to the material presented using deliberate practice. Wieman and his group report that students are definitely more engaged and that many other faculty members are beginning to use this strategy.

Although the deliberate practice strategy may be news to those in other disciplines, this information is no surprise to nursing faculty. However, affirmation by Nobel prize winners of what we know may help speed up the pace of desired and recommended innovations in nursing education.

Source: Mervis J. A better way to teach? Science NOW. May 12, 2011. Available at . Accessed on May 15, 2011.

Submitted by: Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL, News Editor at

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.