This study found that although error avoidance during learning appears to be the rule in American classrooms, it may be a counterproductive strategy, at least for neurologically typical students. Results show that errorful learning followed by corrective feedback is beneficial to learning. Interestingly, the beneficial effects are particularly salient when individuals strongly believe that their error is correct: Errors committed with high confidence are corrected more readily than low-confidence errors. Corrective feedback, including analysis of the reasoning leading up to the mistake, is crucial. Aside from the direct benefit to learners, implications from these findings indicate that teachers can gain valuable information from errors, and error tolerance encourages students’ active, exploratory, generative engagement. If the goal is optimal performance in high-stakes situations, it may be worthwhile to allow and even encourage students to commit and correct errors while they are in low-stakes learning situations rather than to assiduously avoid errors at all costs.
Metcalfe, J. (2017). Learning from errors. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 465-489. https://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010416-044022