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Confusion, Error and Feedback

School leaders, teachers and parents should build a culture that embraces confusion and error as tools to increase learning in schools.
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Historically, confusion and error have been feared and avoided in learning spaces. Yet research shows these experiences can enhance learning and may even be integral to the learning process, writes neuroscientist and educator, Dr Jared Cooney Horvath.

Common belief in education is that simple, easy-to-follow lessons are most effective for learning. Studies from the Science of Learning Research Centre reveal, however, that unclear and confusing lessons can put students in a state of enhanced attention and help them better engage with the learning process.

Making mistakes is also an effective way to learn. Students who develop the ability to recognise and use errors to guide learning can move beyond learning plateaus into mastery over a subject or skill. Appropriate feedback, learning and teaching strategies are needed to help students understand how best to address and learn from mistakes.

Discover why school leaders, teachers and parents should build a culture that embraces confusion and error as tools to increase learning in schools.

This article was prepared for Horizon: Thought Leadership, a publication of the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, Department of Education and Training, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last updated 12 April 2022