Drill and practice is a behaviorist aligned technique in which students are given the same materials repeatedly until mastery is achieved. In each iteration, students are given similar questions to answer or activities to perform, with a certain percentage of correct responses or actions moving the student to the next level of difficulty.

Appropriate Content Areas

Most common in Kinesthetics, Coaching, Music, Mathematics, Language, Typing, and Biological Sciences. Not as common in adult education.


Anatomy Drill and Practice at the Student Companion site to Tortora & Grabowski, Introduction to the Human Body, 5th edition.

Goals and Objectives

Several goals can be attributed to drill and practice exercises. They can be used to build confidence as more answers are correctly provided. They also help to reinforce important materials. Learners are also provided and opportunity to practice critical skills and knowledge sets. Sample objectives are shown next.

During and after performing the activity, students will…

  • increase skill at performing the given task…
  • increase speed at performing the given task…
  • internalize the given information until it is an automatic assumption…

…as determined by successfully attending to 80% of rubric items.


In general, there are no prerequisites for drill and practice. It is commonly used as a core set activity such as learning an alphabet. Prerequisites may exist if more advanced knowledge sets are to be practiced. For example, you would not use drill and practice in multiplication if the student does not already know addition.

Materials and Resources

The instructor must provide instruction in what is to be practiced. Depending on the curriculum, worksheets may be produced on which the students work.

Guiding Questions for this Lesson

There is not usually a guiding question in drill and practice exercises, perhaps adding to the opposition of its use in more advanced thinking skills. It is basically a technique used in process and declarative knowledge building activities.

Lesson Outline and Procedure

Before beginning a drill and practice exercise, the students must be informed and taught the underlying principles. Once the principle has been demonstrated or instructed, the students are given an activity, procedure, or worksheet to complete. A set time limit is usually employed. Assessment should quickly follow performance with opportunities for additional reinforcement and skill building. Effective use of drill and practice will depend on linking the activity to the actual skill that the instructor intends to develop.

Drill and practice activities can also be provided to students to do on their own time and at their own pace, with assessment provided after they have been completed. When appropriate, computer-based assessment can be used to provide immediate feedback without instructor overseeing the activity, such as in many mathematics drills.

Teaching Strategies

  • Kinesthetic drills should be in a real life situation.
  • Avoid criticisms of student ability. It may be that the prerequisites have not been met and the activity is not appropriate for the given student.
  • Finish every drill.
  • Studies have shown that children learn better individually rather than in pairs when performing drill and practice exercises.


What accommodations may be needed for students with disabilities or other special needs? Clearly, some physical disabilities will prohibit some kinesthetic activities from being performed. Time may also become a factor for some students, such as those with dyslexia, in performing some tasks since speed is often part of the assessment in drill and practice exercises.


Drill and practice exercises are short term activities that are usually completed in under 10 minutes. There should be follow-up reinforcement at later times.

Ideas for Lesson Evaluation and Teacher Reflection

How did the students like the lesson? End of semester evaluations should ask about the usefulness and learning accomplished through such activities.

How was student learning verified? Participation can be assessed in discussion sessions. In general, student work is assessed by the number of correct responses or actions in a given time frame with process providing partial credit towards the final grade.

Additional Resources

  • Audioblox, (n.d.) Teaching myth: Repetition and drill dull creativity. Retrieved January 9, 2007, from http://www.audiblox2000.com/repetition.htm
  • Handal, B., & Herrington, A. (2003). Re-examining categories of computer-based learning in mathematics education.Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education[Online serial], 3(3). Retrieved January 9, 2007, from http://www.citejournal.org/vol3/iss3/mathematics/article1.cfm
  • Norman, D. A., & Spohrer, J. C. (1996). Learner-centered education.IT Forum, 12. Retrieved January 9, 2007, fromhttp://itech1.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper12/paper12.html – “Rote learning and drill-and-practice are still essential to transform understanding into automated skill, making the information and procedures available to the mind without conscious effort.