In striving to develop expertise, are 10,000 hours of deliberate practice really required, and must it be guided by a teacher or coach? In episode 59, we’re joined by Brooke Macnamara from Case Western Reserve University. She’ll discuss her attempted replication of the study which led to the mantra popularized by Malcolm Gladwell that these criteria are necessary to master a task. Her article, “The role of deliberate practice in expert performance: revisiting Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Römer (1993)”, was published with Megha Maitra on August 21, 2019 in the open-access journal Royal Society Open Science.



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Hosts / Producers

Ryan Watkins & Doug Leigh

How to Cite

Watkins, R., Leigh, D., & Macnamara, B. (2019, October 1). Parsing Science – Does practice make perfect?. figshare.


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Macnamara: It could be at this point, since people now know about the 10,000 hour rule that they could assume that they’re practicing more and that’s why they’re good.

Watkins: This is Parsing Science, the unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science, as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Ryan Watkins

Leigh: and I’m Doug Leigh today in Episode 59 of Parsing Science were joined by Brooke Macnamara from Case Western Reserve University. She’ll discuss her attempt to replicate the 1993 study, behind the mantra popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice on a skill are necessary to become an expert in it. Here’s Brooke Macnamara.

Macnamara: Hi I’m Brooke Macnamara. I am currently an Associate Professor at Case Western Reserve University. I’m a cognitive psychologist in the department of psychological sciences. I was born in rural Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. I’ve actually had a career before this current one. So when I was 16, I decided that I wanted to be an American Sign Language English interpreter. So I went to college for that initially, so my bachelor’s degree is in American Sign Language English interpretation. So I ended up getting interested in aptitude for interpreting. I did a master’s degree at Union Institute and University, which was sort of a non-traditional program you find your own mentors. And I got the research bug and I just couldn’t let it go. And there was nowhere else for me to go in terms of getting more research experience and education except a traditional PhD program. So I went to Princeton University and studied it under Andy Conway, who examines individual differences in cognitive abilities. And initially the idea was to get this PhD and then go back to interpreting but again research just kind of held on to me and wouldn’t let me go. So I stayed in the academic route and now I study a bit more broadly skill acquisition and expertise across domains.

Watkins: The importance of deliberate practice in developing expertise has been a long-held foundation of psychological literature ever since a 1993 seminal study by K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues. Especially since Ericsson was brought on to the faculty at Florida State University while Doug and I were graduate students there, we were curious what motivated Brooke to investigate if she could replicate their results.

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