Learning from mistakes

He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery. - Scottish author Samuel Smiles

While mistakes are something most people typically try to avoid, they can be beneficial. "Learn from your mistakes" is a catchphrase that is tossed around quite often, but there is significant truth to it; using mistakes as a teaching technique is proving quite successful.

Research has long shown that memorization is not an effective learning strategy. While memorization and last minute cramming can help a student pass an impending exam, the information is usually quickly forgotten. Better strategies for long term retention and understanding of material involve information recall.

New studies show that using guesswork as a teaching technique can increase students' ability to learn and remember material. The research indicates that guessing answers to questions, even when mistakes are made, help people learn better than without errors. When a person tries to answer a question, they have to think through the problem which helps them make sense of what they are learning. But the negative connotation around mistakes often prevents the use of these techniques. Creating an environment where mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn can have a big impact and make the most of this effective learning technique.

AsULearn has some tools that can enable the use of questions, guesswork, and practice of information recall. Try these tools for providing alternative ways for your students to learn:


The quiz activity allows a teacher to create quizzes with various types of questions. Allowing multiple attempts with randomly selected questions can be a good tool for prefacing material to be covered, as well as serving as a way for students to practice information recall after material is discussed. Correct answers and feedback can even be configured for an independent learning experience.


The lesson activity allows the presentation of content and practice activities. Content can be sequential, or different paths can be configured as options for the student. Multiple choice, matching, and short answer questions can be incorporated to engage the student and to employ the guesswork technique by providing questions before material is reviewed.

Learn more about How Mistakes Help Students Learn.

one plus one equals three is a mistake
Published: Oct 29, 2018 7:10am