New York: Practice alone does not make you perfect. Practicing in a right way is the sure-shot way to optimise learning.
“The way you practice is just as important as how often you practice when it comes to learning quickly,” said psychological scientist Tom Stafford of the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England.
To reach this conclusion, researchers analysed data from over 850,000 people playing an online game 'Axon'.
In this fast-paced game, players are tasked with guiding a neuron from connection to connection by clicking on potential targets, testing participants' ability to perceive, make decisions and move quickly, said the study published in the journal Psychological Science.
Stafford was interested to know how practice affected players' subsequent performance in the game.
Some 'Axon' players achieved higher scores than others despite practicing for the same amount of time.
Game play data revealed that those players who seemed to learn more quickly had either spaced out their practice or had more variable early performance - suggesting they were exploring how the game works - before going on to perform better, said the study.
"It suggests that learning can be improved - you can learn more efficiently or use the same practice time to learn to a higher level," said Stafford.
"As we live longer, and as more of our lives become based around acquiring complex skills, optimal learning becomes increasingly relevant to everyone,” he added.
"This kind of data affords us to look in an unprecedented way at the shape of the learning curve, allowing us to explore how the way we practice helps or hinders learning," concluded the study.