4 Ways Deliberate Practice Can Make VR Training More Effective

In many fields, practice is the difference between good and great. In fact, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outlier,” it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a task. Few people, however, have that kind of time, especially when it comes to mastering new skills in the workplace. Deliberate practice can help reduce the time spent developing a new skill or improving performance.

Deliberate practice is a method to improve performance through attention, rehearsal, and repetition. It helps push a learner out of their comfort zone and into a learning zone.

Virtual reality (VR) enables deliberate practice by presenting situations that can be repeated and perfected at the learner’s discretion. VR provides unique benefits for deliberate practice because learners can:

  • Target a specific skill or area of learning
  • Practice tasks repeatedly in a safe environment
  • Break down complex problems into smaller tasks

There are no shortcuts to mastering your craft, but deliberate practice can help.

To efficiently improve your skills, you need to improve how you practice. Too often, the term “practice” is associated with mindless repetition. In contrast, deliberate practice targets specific areas with the explicit goal of improving performance.

This article will define deliberate practice, its benefits, and how using VR can help organizations create opportunities for deliberate practice.


What Is Deliberate Practice?

Psychologist Anders Erricson coined the term deliberate practice as part of his research on how people become experts. Deliberate practice is a purposeful, systematic training method that improves performance through attention, rehearsal, and repetition. A critical difference between traditional and deliberate practice is breaking down the skill or task into its component parts and then focusing on achieving specific goals. This process helps push a learner from their comfort zone to their learning zone.  

Another essential aspect of deliberate practice is immediate feedback and incremental improvement. If mistakes are not corrected, the wrong behaviors become ingrained habits. By receiving immediate feedback, the learner has an opportunity to correct their error in the moment and incrementally improve.  

The following steps should be completed to transition from automatic to deliberate practice:

  1. Break down your performance into individual skills or tasks and determine where improvement would yield the most significant gains.
  2. Set specific goals that push learners out of their comfort zone.
  3. Practice in an environment where there is an opportunity for immediate feedback.
  4. Iteratively incorporate the feedback into your next attempt.


The Benefits Of Deliberate Practice

There is no potential for growth from limiting practice to skills you have already mastered. The potential for change comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and focusing your practice on the next level of performance. With deliberate practice, you continually raise the bar on what is that next level. 

Other specific benefits of deliberate practice include:

  • Increases automaticity — Repeating tasks with purpose transforms behavior into automatic habits. With repetition, the brain can perform tasks more subliminally and efficiently. 
  • Focuses effort — Learners can prioritize development by breaking down complex tasks into individual steps.
  • Time-efficient — More frequent feedback leads to faster overall development.


Deliberate Practice For VR Training

VR is an ideal tool for deliberate practice. It provides a realistic environment where learners can practice and incrementally improve. Personal to each learner, deliberate practice is incorporated into VR training through interactive, customized, and repeatable scenarios.

VR environments provide a unique space for deliberate practice because learners can achieve the following:

  • Break down complex operations into individual steps so that learners can focus their development.
  • Establish specific performance goals and use VR to measure their progress toward their goals.
  • Receive immediate feedback before their next attempt.
  • Avoid burnout by varying practice activities through scenario-based learning.

For new hires, instead of shadowing a fellow employee in-person, they can use full VR to practice real-world tasks individually and take extra time to work on specific issues or areas they may not understand. This way, once learners begin work in the real world, they already have the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their role.  


Deliberate Practice Makes Perfect! 

In this article, we’ve defined deliberate practice and discussed its role in VR training through examples. There’s no doubt that VR enables deliberate practice and is a practical approach to learning. 

Now, it’s time to ask yourself, “Is my organization maximizing its training efforts with deliberate practice? Can implementing a VR program enhance our current training program?” Get started creating your VR training program today, or explore all that VR has to offer here