Everyone has sat in a math class and watched a teacher model how to solve a problem. Students ask questions until they are able to understand. Then, the teacher turns over the task to the students. This is an example of guided practice. Guided practice is showing learners how to complete a task or problem and then turning over the practice to them.
Steps of Guided Practice
The steps of guided practice will vary depending on the modality of the course and the topic. For the most part, though, it will follow the steps of the trainer working through a problem, followed by the learner solving a problem, and then the whole group working together. Here are those steps in more detail.
- The instructor assesses where the learners are in their prior knowledge. Do the learners know anything about the topic? If they do, what do they know?
- Instructors teach the main part of the lesson modeling the steps of the task or activity.
- The learners attempt the task or skill with assistance from the instructor.
- When the learner feels comfortable, he or she attempts the task or skill on his or her own.
- Collaborating with a group will help reinforce the skills and also gives learners an opportunity to learn from each other.
- During the later phase of guided practice, the instructor should intervene only if it is critical to the learner’s success. Much of the best learning is done through trial and error.
Examples of Guided Practice
While there are many ways to guide learners through new activities, these are three of the most common ways used by trainers.
- Split learners into pairs to work together on drawing visual representations of the informationk, for example, concept or mind maps.
- Post several questions for learners to discuss. Let learners decide what questions they want to answer and in which order.
- Pair learners so that one learner explains how the task is performed and the other learner listens. They take turns to explain and comparing notes to make sure they understand all parts of the task.
Guided Practice in an Online Setting
In a virtual instructor-led setting, the guided practice can be easily incorporated into the training. Much like in a face-to-face classroom, learners can watch the facilitator describe the steps of a task or activity. They are able to ask questions and work with others to complete the tasks on their own.
In a fully online course, guided practice is less feasible unless the course is being conducted synchronously. However, if an instructor has chunked a course well, learners will be able to complete small steps of the task and wait for feedback from the instructor. Alternatively, learners can work together offline or in asynchronous online setting to support each other through the activity. While this is no traditional guided practice, it is still an opportunity for the leaners to lean on others until they fully understand the content.
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