Post #28 – Reflection on the “Practice, Practice, Practice” Pattern

This week, I will be writing a reflection on the “Practice, Practice, Practice” pattern.  This pattern addresses developers who want to get better at programming and to expand your diversity of concrete skills.  I chose to reflect on this pattern because I recently accepted an offer for a summer internship and I intend to put in quite a bit of practice before I begin working in June.   Oshineye and Hoover provide solid advice on how to exercise programming skills for those in the ideal situation of having a mentor and those who are left to their own devices.

They begin by saying “Take the time to practice your craft without interruptions, in an environment where you can feel comfortable making mistakes”.  I think environment is a very important element in getting the most out of practice.  The environment in which you practice should allow you to focus completely on the skill you are trying to improve.  Ideally, this environment would also include a mentor that can help guide your practicing and gauge your progress.  Personally, I think an ideal environment could also include peers who are also developing their programming skills because it would provide more outlets for each individual to discuss their work and mentor one another.

They go on to say that the key to this pattern is finding time to develop software in a stress-free environment with no due dates production issues, or interruptions.  This pattern, like the “Breakable Toys” pattern, also stresses the importance of short feedback loops in practice sessions.  Short feedback loops refer to the cycle of completing exercises and quickly receiving feedback on your performance for the purpose of gauging a person’s progress toward a goal.  Short feedback loops can be found in the form of feedback from a mentor or in your own incremental completion of progressively more difficult tasks.

To implement this pattern, Oshineye and Hoover advise developers to find exercises or create their own, and ensure that those exercises will challenge them to at least some degree higher than what they know they are capable of.  They also advise that you should solve and resolve the same issue over some period of time, so that you can see how your solutions change and progress.  I have been motivated by this pattern and I intend to implement it in the coming weeks as I prepare for my internship.

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