How To Learn By Making Mistakes

How To Learn By Making Mistakes

When does doing something wrong actually make things better?

Dan Gould
  • 18 february 2010

When does doing something wrong actually make things better? Scientific American reports that new research supports the idea that challenging tests, and pretesting (taking tests without studying) can help students better learn new material.

They explain:

For years many educators have championed “errorless learning,” advising teachers (and students) to create study conditions that do not permit errors. For example, a classroom teacher might drill students repeatedly on the same multiplication problem, with very little delay between the first and second presentations of the problem, ensuring that the student gets the answer correct each time.

The idea is that students who make errors will remember the mistakes and will not learn the correct information (or will learn it more slowly, if at all). Recent research shows that this worry is misplaced. Pupils actually learn better if conditions are arranged so that they have to make errors. Specifically, people remember things better and longer if they are given tests so challenging that they are bound to fail. This phenomenon has obvious applications for education, but the technique could be useful for anyone who is trying to absorb new material of any kind.

Scientific American: “The Pluses of Getting It Wrong”

image by ricmcarthur


Wearable Tech Expert: Designing Technology To Empower Connection To Ourselves

Technology Today

Wearable Device And Lamp Recreate Beautiful Sunsets In Your Home

Sun Memories can record up to six hours of natural light and reproduce it via a connected light at a later date

Design & Architecture Today

Flower Pencils Create Cherry Blossom Petals When Sharpened

A Japanese stationary company developed the special implements in order to create unique shavings


Get PSFK's Related Report: Innovation Debrief: Boston

See All
Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

The Simpsons Is Stepping Into The World Of VR

To celebrate their 600th episode, the animated family sitcom created a virtual reality version of their opening gag

Syndicated Yesterday

Museum Exhibit Celebrates Strange Architectural Contraptions

Artist William Heath Robinson's peculiar genius is on display in this recent show with wiggling ducts, jumbles of planks and coils of cable

Food Yesterday

This Sensor Will Help You Brew The Perfect Cup Of Tea Every Time

42Tea is a small device that guides you through every step of the brewing process, even identifying the type of leaves being used

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Norwegian Mountaineering Center Mimics A Snow-Capped Mountain

The structure's exterior is clad in a uniform surface of pixels to create a unique climbing experience

Gaming & Play Yesterday

Shopping Bag Turns Your Hands Into A LEGO

Designers from the School of Visual Arts thought up the Playbox Bag for a competition


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 13, 2016

Design Expert: Why The Cannabis Industry Is A Designer’s Dream

Nicole Bacchus, Associate Director of Strategy at Smart Design, explains where the opportunity lies in an industry still in its infancy

PSFK Labs october 12, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Sustainability Yesterday

Giant Coffee Cups Encourage People To Recycle Their Morning Cup Of Joe

The Hubbub Foundation has created a set of themed bins meant to inspire recycling on a large scale

Home Yesterday

Small Device Creates A Personal Weather Station Inside In Your Home

Netatmo's new sensor is a standalone air quality monitor that can measure humidity, purity, noise and temperature

Travel Yesterday

Advertising Proposal Aims To Be The Most “Instagrammable Billboard In The World”

The Belltower in Los Angeles would allow video advertising and live event streaming, and include a pedestrian plaza for visitors

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Easy-To-Build Shelter Offers A Quick Way To Put A Roof Above Your Head

The structure designed by studio Duffy London has applications in disaster relief or first-aid

Beauty Yesterday

L’Oréal Wants To Help Visually Impaired Women Apply Makeup

The cosmetics brand has developed a series of audio tutorials for Brazilian consumers with reduced sight

Travel Yesterday

Drone-Powered Hotel Concept Could Radically Redefine Vacations

These unique pods would allow guests to visit a variety of locales over a period of several days

Automotive Yesterday

Pitch Your Startup Idea To Fellow Uber Passengers

A new promotion on the ridesharing service's POOL feature lets select riders compete for a $5,000 investment from prominent venture capitalists

Work Yesterday

Busy Office Managers Can Rely Upon A Digital Concierge To Help Offload Tasks

MEET is a service that automates the process of everyday tasks such as pantry and printer reordering, so employees can focus on more important work

No search results found.