Expert Practice

Watch the 1-minute overview with Wynton Marsalis

“Expert Practice has changed my framework for interacting with my students. The idea that we can get better at everything is driving a lot of my lessons now.”
— Paige, High School Teacher, New York

What is Expert Practice?

It’s often assumed that world-class performers have a gift or talent the rest of us lack. Experts do share something that sets them apart, but it’s not just “natural ability”—it’s ability they developed through a special type of practice.

Expert Practice has three steps that maximize learning. First, a student and teacher identify a specific sub-skill that incrementally challenges the student. Second, the student practices that skill with full effort. Third, the teacher gives feedback.

By repeating this cycle, students will learn to replace “going through the motions” with the kind of purposeful effort that leads to true learning. Expert Practice can help students master a wide array of skills both inside and out of the classroom.


50 minutes, plus a classroom guide

Getting started

  • Teach the Expert Practice Lesson Plan to one of your classes
  • Use the Classroom Guide to create the best conditions for ongoing Expert Practice in the classroom
  • Want to start with a lighter lift? Commit to giving every one of your students feedback for a full day

Teach Expert Practice:


Use Expert Practice in your class

View individual Playbook elements:

“Getting kids to think about skills they’ve already mastered was really good because they realize that they’re good at those things because they’ve practiced.”
— Jen, Middle School Teacher, Maryland

Using Expert Practice with your class?

More about Expert Practice


About the researcher

Anders Ericsson is internationally known for his research about expert performance and deliberate practice, professional development, and long-term working memory, among others. He consults with professional sports teams,international companies, world-class surgeons, and schools of medicine, education, and business. He's Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University.

Related resources

Research Articles

The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance
Psychological Review, 100(3), 363-406.
Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993).
Memory skills mediating superior memory in a world-class memorist
Memory, 25, 1294-1302.
Ericsson, K. A., Cheng, X., Pan, Y., Ku, Y., Ge, Y., & Hu, Y. (2017).

Deliberate practice and acquisition of expert performance: A general overview
Academic Emergency Medicine. 15(11), 988-994.
Ericsson, K. A. (2008).

Why study time does not predict grade point average across college students: Implications of deliberate practice for academic performance
Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30, 96-116. 
Plant, E., Ericsson, K., Hill, L. and Asberg, K. (2005).

Thank you to the following educators for their help with Expert Practice

Carl Ackerman, Casey Bardin, Michael Del Raso, Jennifer Gilbert Manly, Paige Goldberg, David Greene, Megan Hanley, Matthew Lutinski, Leslie Schwegler, Michael Sheehan, Charles Shryock, Liz Spangler, Kimberly Tan, and Jillian Varner.

A very special thank you to Caroline Lee and Rebecca Nyquist Baelen.