Thanks to ourÂ illusory superiority we consistently overestimate our performance on tests, and, without quality feedback, rapidly become oblivious to the gaps in our knowledge. Furthermore, many consider testing to be an ineffectual tool for assessing performance and errors to be counterproductive to learning.
Challenging this preconception is research suggesting that making mistakes on tests–and being informed of them–is an integral part of the learning process.
We tend to assumeÂ that the best way to consume and remember information is through theÂ application of rigorous, extended study. What we fail to see, however,Â is that the process of trying to work through a problem to which weÂ don’t know the answer focuses our attention on it in a way that simplyÂ studying it does not. The desire to get the answer right, and theÂ frustration of failure, is partly to account.
But there’s another element as well. When we struggle to learnÂ something, and fail, the moment we finally get the answer it imprintsÂ itself more deeply on our mind than it would have had struggle andÂ failure not preceded it.Â [â€¦]
If I had to identify one overarching lesson from Â our study it would beÂ this: When you make mistakes, don’t just let them slip by – correctÂ them. Create challenging learning environments, make mistakes and thenÂ learn from them.
There is much in common here with theÂ evidence-based approach to teaching.