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Principles for Effective Practice Exercises

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I was going through the book, e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Colvin Clark & Richard E Mayer to refresh my mind and update my knowledge. Here, I would like to share the principles for effective practice exercises, which I follow for creating practice exercises from this book.

Principles for Effective Practice Exercises

Principle 1: Interactions should mirror the job

  • The features and processes of the practice exercises used in e-learning must match the features and process of the work environment (job-realistic context).
  • The job-realistic context activities get encoded into the long-term memory and help in easy retrieval of information at the job.
  • Avoid using recognize or recall information as it doesn’t transfer learning to the job.
  • Simulation questions require learners to make certain kinds of decisions. Hence, they are more likely to support transfer of learning.

Principle 2: Critical tasks require more practice

  • Use as many good questions as you can as they enhance learning and improve your performance.
  • For critical tasks, use lots of practice exercises and, in those places where job skills can be gained at work, use fewer practice exercises.
  • Practice exercises should be distributed throughout a lesson as they result in better long-term retention.

Principle 3: Apply the media elements principle

  • The directions for practice exercises should be distinguished by placement, color or font and placed adjacent to the question.
  • Feedback should be placed near the question and response area.
  • The learner should see four components on the screen when they answer a question – directions, question, response and feedback.
  • Do not narrate on-screen text directions or practice questions.

Principle 4: Train learners to self-question during receptive e-lessons

  • There are certain situations where learners need to learn from the lesson that lacks practice.
  • Learners can learn by asking questions regarding the content presented – this is known as receptive learning.
  • Provide learners with generic question stems, worked examples or job aids.

Do you follow any specific guidelines while creating practice exercise? Please share your thoughts on this subject here.

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