Education

Mistakes as a pathway to learning

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Science  03 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6290, pp. 1186-1187
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6290.1186-c

In STEM education, memorizing facts is out and thinking like a scientist is in. Practicing scientists often reflect upon their mistakes, a technique that traditionally does not happen in classrooms. To promote this type of reflective thinking, Brown et al. gave students in a quantum physics course identical problems on the midterm and final exam. All students were provided solutions after the midterm exam while only half of the students were given incentives to correct their mistakes. Students who had incentives to reflect and learn from their mistakes performed significantly better on the final exam than students without incentives, suggesting that encouraging and training students to use their mistakes as a learning opportunity is an intervention that encourages authentic scientific practices.

Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.12.010121 (2016).

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