Last Updated on April 6, 2023 by Editorial Team
Let’s recall the procedure to learn the alphabet, we started with rote learning, then moved to repeat the alphabet orally, and finally to practice them in a written format. The drill and practice teaching method takes the same route when trying to establish competency in a student.
While the alphabet example is too simplistic to understand the versatile nature of the method, a good starting point would be to note that the Drill and Practice method uses repetition, practice, and autonomy of underlying rules. The final goal of the method is mastery or accuracy over the performance of a task.
The goal of the drill and practice teaching method is simple:
- To increase the speed at a given task
- To increase the accuracy of the activity or performance
- To make the skill an automatic response of the learner
Not only is drill and practice a great pedagogical approach to teaching new material but also a great one to strengthen previously learned material and reinforce it into everyday routine. For young students, the usage of drill and practice can be very simple, however, for students of higher classes and depending on the complexity of the subject, the drill and practice approach needs to be modified. For instance, a student who doesn’t know addition, wouldn’t benefit from drill and practice methods to learn multiplication.
Below a list of real-life classroom examples of drill and practice teaching methods is mentioned, to better understand the application of the procedure.
Examples of drill and practice teaching method
The Drill and Practice teaching method can be used in a variety of classes and with varying age groups. Some of the common examples of the approach have been mentioned below.
1. Conducting Spelling Tests
Spelling tests are an excellent example of drill and practice teaching methods that can be practiced in the classroom. Depending on the familiarity with the content, teachers can conduct an oral or written spelling test. This can be done as per the drill and practice format, which means assigning the content, asking the students to practice or learn the spelling, and then following it up with an assessment. For the low scorers, retests can be conducted to ensure repetition and subsequent mastery of the content.
2. Choral Practicing
Just as how drill and practice method belongs to the behaviorist tradition, choral practice is based on modeling but employs the drill and practice methodology. Choral practice, in essence, allows students to learn the pronunciation of words after listening to the teacher. After the teacher narrates a section of the material, students will continuously repeat the spoken content until they have achieved mastery over the pronunciation of new words.
3. Using Grammar and Punctuation Workbooks
To learn grammar and punctuation, there is no better method than drill and practice. Learning where to put commas, brackets, question mark, exclamation mark, and other punctuation marks, can only be learned by exposing students to similar types of questions to solve. For instance, using jumbled sentences, incomplete sentences, using the correct verb, and tense correction, can all be repeated until the student learns the proper use of grammar and punctuation. Assigning similar worksheets to the class of students every alternate day can improve grammar and punctuation through drill and practice.
For students dealing with dyslexia, punctuation can be a tricky thing. Just how similar looking alphabets confuse them, remembering the meaning of symbols and where to put it can be confusing for the student. Using worksheets as per the structures writing program format, that provide cues or vocabulary as aid, can be used as a drill and practice technique.
4. Foreign Language
Recall how young children learn the language, they continuously repeat words so that they acquire their pronunciation, spelling, and usage in a sentence. When teaching foreign languages, choral practice, spelling tests, and grammar and punctuation are the direct application of drill and practice methods. In languages like Japanese and Chinese, where the script needs to be learned, the drill and practice method is the only preferred choice. While written drills might be a little hard for dyslexics initially, audiobooks have great benefits as they can serve as important drill administered both individually and under the supervision of teachers.
5. BODMAS Rules
BODMAS stands for the bracket, of, division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction. It is the basic rule to carry out mathematical operations. As students progress through classes, the complexity of mathematical expressions increases. So, to ensure the accuracy of results, following the BODMAS rule is crucial. Hence, teachers use the drill and practice methods to make students internalize the format of solving mathematical expressions. In case, a student fails to generate an accurate answer, the same rules can be reiterated and the student can be made to repeat similar expressions until the rule is learned.
6. Creative Classes
Creative classes like drawing, singing, dancing, and dramatics, all employ the use of drill and practice methods. The aim of the drill and practice method is to increase skills and proficiency at a given task, hence, teachers in the creative field emphasize practice and repetition over any other form of teaching.
7. General Knowledge
Another important domain of learning for students is general knowledge. Having knowledge of facts and figures is very important and it is an important component of several competitions at the school and college levels. Students can engage in a self-administered drill and practice method to learn about current events, while teachers can use the same to increase the accuracy of students’ learning of the facts.
Is the drill and practice method a beneficial teaching method?
The Drill and Practice method is amongst the oldest teaching methods and forms a part of the teaching pedagogy for younger classes, skill training, vocational courses, or for achieving mastery over certain concepts. While the premise of drill and practice can be somewhere traced to rote learning, which thus makes it less applicable and successful for subjects like arithmetic in higher classes. However, drill and practice remain to be the best approach when it comes to teaching younger children, learning music, dance or drawing, and even basic or elementary-level mathematics.
In a study by John Woodward, it was found that the drill and practice method, combined with strategies to teach facts, was effective in generating improved performance of students in the application of these facts. Yet another study, that measured the cognitive capacity and personal variables of students, found that high-ability students benefitted the most from the drill and practice method. Hence, it can be said that students of young age and students who aim at perfecting their skills will benefit most from the drill and practice method, as opposed to those with a lack of clarity on basic concepts.
The drill and practice method was called outdated procedures very recently. However, more and more educators are coming to realize that the method cannot be simply ruled out from the field of pedagogy. Of course, learning semantics is very important, but drill and practice can be used with children who are just starting their school journey and with those who wish to perfect their skills.
- Woodward, J. (2016). Developing Automaticity in Multiplication Facts: Integrating Strategy Instruction with Timed Practice Drills. Learning Disability Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.2307/30035554
- Kluge, A., Ritzmann, S., Burkolter, D. et al. The interaction of drill and practice and error training with individual differences. Cogn Tech Work 13, 103–120 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10111-010-0158-z