How to Apply Deliberate Practice In a Coding Bootcamp Setting

Dan Pickett

By Dan Pickett

 

Most classical education models follow a nearly identical format. A teacher lectures at the front of the classroom, while students take notes that theoretically help them absorb the information being taught.

For software engineering students, learning new information is important, but it’s only part of a bigger picture. Listening to a lecture doesn’t give students the real world practice they need to succeed in a work environment. 

To gain experience, computer science students must put their fingers on the keyboard and practice deliberately. Deliberate practice is an active methodology that favors doing over absorbing

At Launch Academy, we incorporate deliberate practice into our education model to ensure our students get the experience they need to become successful software engineers.

What Is Deliberate Practice?

Originally coined by cognitive psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, the term deliberate practice refers to expertise that is achieved through learning rather than by genetics or chance. Deliberate practice suggests that anyone can become an expert with the right preparation.

Ericsson used the medical residency model as an example of deliberate practice. In this model, hospital interns work with resident doctors to gain in-field experience and learn on the job. The medical residency model equips student interns with situational training and practice that they can apply as doctors. 

Another example of deliberate practice that Ericsson highlighted is The United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program or TOPGUN Flight School—yep, just like the movie! Here, the U.S. Navy’s best pilots simulate combat for students to develop situational awareness and prepare for actual air-to-air combat. 

Software development may not be as risky as war aviation, but the same learning concepts apply. Through simulation, Launch Academy provides engineering students with low-stakes environments where they can practice and take risks, so that they’ll excel by the time they get to real-world working environments.

In our coding bootcamp, we pull back the curtain to reveal the unknowns of software engineering that would otherwise feel intimidating or inaccessible to new students 

Unlike the conventional classroom model where students passively listen, our simulations help students assimilate knowledge through deliberate practice.

Unlike the conventional classroom model where students passively listen, our simulations help students assimilate knowledge through deliberate practice.

 

The primary pedagogical methods we use at Launch Academy are project-based learning and the flipped classroom model.

Project-Based Learning Environment

Project-based learning, also known as challenge-based learning, is all about applied practice. Students start with an end goal in mind and work backwards, discovering and gaining the knowledge required to build out their end project. 

Our educators at Launch Academy take the time to guide students through their entire project to ensure successful completion. This approach gives students real, hands-on experience they can’t get in a lecture hall. 

The best part about project-based learning is how closely it resembles today’s workforce demands. Software engineers are often called to incorporate unfamiliar technology, use a new programming language, or interact with an unfamiliar API. Project-based learning gives students the tools to assess what they need to know before diving into a project—and gives them the confidence to quickly learn and assimilate new information.

Flipped Classroom Model

In the conventional learning environment, a professor gives a lecture; then, students practice what they’ve learned with homework. Finally, students test their knowledge with an exam.

This traditional structure is centered around a passive learning model. At Launch Academy, we find that students learn best when they’re actively engaged. That’s why we employ a flipped classroom model to facilitate more active learning.

The flipped classroom model shifts the purpose of the instructor. Rather than lecture students, instructors remove themselves from the front of the classroom and put students there instead. 

Students are responsible for learning new material independently, through curated instruction that Launch Academy provides. They read original articles, watch videos, and run through practice exercises to build their foundation of knowledge as part of our proprietary curriculum. Then, they’re ready to enter the classroom and put that new knowledge to work. 

At this point, their educators become coaches, filling in the gaps of their independent learning and assisting with practice.

Accelerated Learning for Software Engineering

The project-based learning and flipped classroom methods allow us to offer students an accelerated learning environment, which is incredibly valuable to adult learners. With these methods, we’re able to condense multiple semesters of traditional education into an 18-week bootcamp. 

K. Anders Ericsson believed that anyone could become an expert in their field with the right practice. At Launch Academy, we give students all the tools and practice they need to succeed as software engineers. 

Want to learn more about Launch Academy’s coding bootcamp? Download our syllabus to get started!