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Getting it wrong


VCH
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What do you think of this.

 

It makes sense to me and the quote by one of people comenting on the article really sums it up: "experience is the worst teacher, it gives the test first then the lesson".

 

Except I think that's precisely why the whole "get it wrong first" thing appears to work. How frequently do animals go into a novel situation with a prior knowledge of what will work and what will not? Normally, (aside from humans and other species with some form of meme propagation) animals would first come up against a problem then learn how to solve it.

 

One problem I see with their research is, people have to care about trying to solve the problem the first time around, rather than just ignoring it and waiting for the answer. How could an education system motivate students to care about putting some effort in for the first try.

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you can definitely learn from your mistakes. for example, everyone knows that thomas edison found tons of ways to not make a light bulb before he found one way to make it. however, you should also be able to learn from other people's mistakes.

plus, memorizing something and learning it aren't the same thing.

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I like some of the ideas in the article. A math teacher at one of my old middle schools had a poster that said something to the effect of: Mistakes are only worth making if you learn from them.

 

The part about taking tests that we should fail, however, I disagree with. I like the idea of a pretest, because it gets students thinking about what is to come. But giving us a full on test right away, especially if the grade actually matters, is just a way to kill grades as well as students' self-esteems.

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Two days ago, I snuck into a course on formal logic that is technically for the higher semesters and naturally was way out of my league. It was tricky enough trying to understand unfamiliar terminology that everyone else was familiar with, let alone grasp the concepts being explained as well. Spent the first hour trying to find out what the hell the professor was even talking about.

 

In the following exercise session, I drew two problems on the blackboard, and made at least four mistakes in each, which the professor patiently corrected. I ended up learning more during the exercise than during the lecture.

 

So there's my anecdotal evidence.

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There's a lot of point missing here. The study isn't about making errors on the way to the solution (trial and error), and it isn't about test design and education. It's a cognitive study. Giving people a test that they fail means they are more likely to remember information than if they did not fail. (A better control would be a test at which test-takers were successful, but that's not provided.)

 

Anecdotally, how many successes do you remember specifically? Now, how much can you recall from when you made a mistake, even if the information and error were trivial? Actually, an interesting suggestion here is that those who ace every test might end up with less knowledge down the road than those who struggle with them.

 

—Alorael, who thinks VCH's question is answered by Master1's complaint about unfair test. If you grade people on something rather difficult, they'll care. Even if you give it miniscule value, or even no grade value but some other significance, people will care. Make it public and embarrassment will motivate, although that has its own pitfalls.

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Originally Posted By: Sss-Chah
you can definitely learn from your mistakes. for example, everyone knows that thomas edison found tons of ways to not make a light bulb before he found one way to make it. however, you should also be able to learn from other people's mistakes.
plus, memorizing something and learning it aren't the same thing.


I've always felt that memorization is valid way to learn. Memorization provides one with a large bank of information that can be applied to novel situations and questions. You have to know the basics first.
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Rote memorization without understanding doesn't do much, and if you're cramming the knowledge may not make it into long-term memory anyway. But memorization simply means committing something to memory, which is of course the basis for all retention of knowledge, which is in turn a pretty good definition of learning.

 

—Alorael, who notes that the study pretty explicitly points out that memorization is learning and that failure to remember actually aids memorization.

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Getting it correct the first time means that you have learned the information. Getting it wrong means you didn't learn it or failed to understand it and you still may not learn it. I've graded enough people to know that most won't bother unless they need the information for their later lives.

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You know that most won't bother with what?

 

I find memorization to be a pain. I could memorize all the trig identities I need to know for calculus (yeah right...) or I could think about deriving them from the basic identities. I prefer the latter.

 

And tests are annoying little buggers. Yes, they can help us learn, but making us fail them is stupid. I for one get discouraged when I make a bunch of mistakes. While I can work through it, it doesn't make me any more enthusiastic about learning.

 

I'll return to calculus for another example. I really love my teacher. She explains things well and makes sure we understand them. She also gives a pretty big number of quizzes. Quizzes, not tests. We did 3 problems today for our quiz. One involved physics, and then the other two were other applications of derivatives and second derivatives.

 

This lets her see what we know and what we still need more help on. Since we get many quizzes, we end up with a large bank of points to counteract any bad quizzes. I'm learning a lot and getting good grades to boot!

 

 

We also do a lot of work in groups. We can help each other and work faster. I think that this is a good strategy, at least in this type of class. We do the same in chemistry. I remember reading (I think it was in the practice PSAT) that people learn better in groups. I stand by this, and think it's wonderful that I have teachers that let me work in groups.

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the problem is how much you memorise something, if you get something wrong and learn it twice will help you more than just learning something once and repiting it, but learning something twice dosen't mean you will memorise it for any longer. If I was a teacher I would try to find a third methed to teach (hypnotizing and false memory any body?).

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