Purposeful practice involves feedback. You have to know whether you are doing something right and, if not, how you’re going wrong. In Oare’s example the music student got belated feedback at school with a C on the performance test, but there seems to have been no feedback during practice—no one listening and pointing out mistakes, with the student seemingly clueless about whether there were errors in the practice. (“How many times did you play it correctly?” “Umm, I dunno . . . Once or twice . . .”)
In our memory study, Steve got simple, direct feedback after every attempt—correct or incorrect, success or failure. He always knew where he stood. But perhaps the more important feedback was something that he did himself. He paid close attention to which aspects of a string of digits caused him problems. If he’d gotten the string wrong, he usually knew exactly why and which digits he had messed up on. Even if he got the string correct, he could report to me afterward which digits had given him trouble and which had been no problem. By recognizing where his weaknesses were, he could switch his focus appropriately and come up with new memorization techniques that would address those weaknesses.
Generally speaking, no matter what you’re trying to do, you need feedback to identify exactly where and how you are falling short. Without feedback—either from yourself or from outside observers—you cannot figure out what you need to improve on or how close you are to achieving your goals.
1）belated adj. 过时的，来得很迟的
2）clueless adj. 毫无线索，一无所知
3）attempt n./v. 尝试，试图
4）mess up 搞乱，弄乱
5）appropriately adv. 适当地
6）fall short 缺乏，不足