February 23rd, 2011


Health conscious parent study

My friend S.E. is a grad. student at Stanford in the design department. She's doing a study involving "health conscious parents".

Anyone know some parents in the San Francisco Bay Area willing to talk with her at home for about an hour?

If so, let me know, and I'll pass your info. along to her.


se hayes wrote, On 2/23/11 6:17 PM:
> hey-
> we need to talk to them at their home, demographics don't matter
> except that it would be better if they had younger kids (3 or less),
> demographics don't matter but having an interest on water or what
> their kids consume would be great....we need to wrap up interviewing
> by monday.
> awesome if you think of anyone!
> -se
> Does it matter how old the children are? Nature of the couple (single,
> gay, straight)? Do they have to talk with you in person, or can they
> talk over the phone?

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Quality v. Quantity « The Practice of Practice

Some research shows that the amount of time doesn’t really matter, although it does matter a little since if you spend zero hours doing something, you’re not going to get better at all. But it turns out that the number of hours practiced doesn’t really matter, it’s all about the quality of your practice. What you do is important, but not how much you do. Duh, right?

This seems like a no-brainer issue, but researchers are notoriously skeptical about common-sense issues. We want to know for sure whether things are true. That’s one of the reasons behind a study by Duke, Simmons, & Cash (2009), titled It’s not how much; it’s how: Characteristics of practice behavior and retention of performance skills. These researchers had 17 graduate and advanced undergraduate piano players practice a 3-measure excerpt of Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra

Here’s what they found:

  1. A few things didn’t seem to affect how well the players did (no statistical significance): practice time; total number of practice trials, and number of complete practice trials.
  2. What did separate the better pianists (statistically significant), was:  the percentage of all performance trials that were correct; the percentage of complete performance trials that were correct; and the number of trials performed incorrectly during practice (this was a negative relationship, or the less mistakes the better the player ranked).

So what does this mean? In a nutshell, you have to practice slow enough to get things right as soon as possible. Playing anything incorrectly ever is teaching your motor neurons to play incorrectly. They don’t know any better and this is a great example of the GIGO principle: Garbage In, Garbage Out. What separated the top-ranked players from the others was how they treated errors when they occurred (p. 318):

From here:


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