Janet Metcalfe, Judy Xu, Matti Vuorre, Robert Siegler, Dylan Wiliam, Robert A. Bjork

Learning from errors versus explicit instruction in preparation for a test that counts

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education

AbstractBackgroundAlthough the generation of errors has been thought, traditionally, to impair learning, recent studies indicate that, under particular feedback conditions, the commission of errors may have a beneficial effect.AimsThis study investigates the teaching strategies that facilitate learning from errors.Materials and MethodsThis 2‐year study, involving two cohorts of ~88 students each, contrasted a learning‐from‐errors (LFE) with an explicit instruction (EI) teaching strategy in a multi‐session implementation directed at improving student performance on the high‐stakes New York State Algebra 1 Regents examination. In the LFE condition, instead of receiving instruction on 4 sessions, students took mini‐tests. Their errors were isolated to become the focus of 4 teacher‐guided feedback sessions. In the EI condition, teachers explicitly taught the mathematical material for all 8 sessions.ResultsTeacher time‐on in the LFE condition produced a higher rate of learning than did teacher time‐on in the EI condition. The learning benefit in the LFE condition was, however, inconsistent across teachers. Second‐by‐second analyses of classroom activities, directed at isolating learning‐relevant differences in teaching style revealed that a highly interactive mode of engaging the students in understanding their errors was more conducive to learning than was teaching directed at getting to the correct solution, either by lecturing about corrections or by interaction focused on corrections.ConclusionThese results indicate that engaging the students interactively to focus on errors, and the reasons for them, facilitates productive failure and learning from errors.

Need a simple solution for managing your BibTeX entries? Explore CiteDrive!

  • Web-based, modern reference management
  • Collaborate and share with fellow researchers
  • Integration with Overleaf
  • Comprehensive BibTeX/BibLaTeX support
  • Save articles and websites directly from your browser
  • Search for new articles from a database of tens of millions of references
Try out CiteDrive

More from our Archive