We all have the experience of making mistakes during exams, when completing homework at school and in making day to day decisions. Even as we recall these past mistakes some of us can easily revisit that unpleasant feeling that we once felt with those mistakes, as though it just happened yesterday. This apparently is due to the fact that our human brain experiences mistakes as “pain” coming from a sense of rejection that threatens the flow of dopamine in our brains. No wonder, it is such a powerful experience that stays with us like a trauma.
When it comes to making mistake in the learning environment, some learners who have a difficult time accepting mistakes may react with disbelieve, shame and sadness. Some learners even go to the extent of giving up on having any hope at passing the course and stop looking for ways to find the correct answer.
There are much instructors can do to avoid adverse reactions to mistakes in course work, beginning from setting a learning environment where mistakes are accepted and discussed openly with the goal of avoiding those mistakes in the future. A learning environment where mistakes are viewed as a valuable opportunity for growth and competence building turns mistakes from being viewed as something negative to something that provides greater insight into what should be done next to grow in the right direction. Embracing mistakes in this way promotes continuous growth that is more realistic with the way one must learn to deal with mistakes in life in general.
A learning environment that embraces mistakes will be more successful when it is implemented with time sensitivity – before it is too late to make corrections to that important assignment or before that final exam. Learners should be given the opportunity to realize the areas that they still need improvement and the time to learn the correct answer. In order to give learners this learning opportunity, “deliberate practice” or routine, content and on-the-spot teaching strategies can be used in the curriculum design. Other than that, clear rubrics will also help set the foundation of the performance and learning goals for each graded assignment.