5 Steps To Deeper Learning #3: Correcting Mistakes
This is the 3rd post in the Deeper Learning Series. The intention is to examine if our students are truly learning and to discuss some tips and strategies that lead to deeper learning, which is learning that involves recall (as opposed to regurgitation) of concepts, making and correcting mistakes, timely feedback, and metacognition.
In the previous 2 posts, 5 Steps To Deeper Learning #1: Let Them Struggle and 5 Steps To Deeper Learning #2: Feedback, I discussed the importance of information recall, making mistakes, and receiving timely feedback in learning. This short post discusses the why and the how of correcting mistakes. Check it out!
To Achieve Deeper Learning, Have Students Correct Their Own Mistakes
Here’s the deal. The assumption here is that you’re developing a classroom culture that not only encourages, but actually welcomes making mistakes. As a community of learners, your class and yourself accept them as the necessary part of the process of deeper learning.
So... Your students used recall to complete a short learning activity. They’ve undoubtedly made some mistakes and had some misconceptions. If they did not, whatever you’re teaching them is not challenging enough. It ain’t cuttin’ it bruh/sis! Anyways… The time has come to correct them mistakes.
The first part of the why is obvious. You do not want the misconceptions to turn into permanent memories and you want students to understand and apply the learned concepts. The second why is more tricky. In essence, making, comparing, and then correcting mistakes leads to stronger neural connections in the brain and thus better understanding and permanent memory chunk formation. You know, a bunch of neurons related to the concepts connected in complex networks as the brain grows due to all this heavy mental lifting.
And the how of mistake correction?
There are several ways to do this. Students can compare their answers with other groups. You can have students who somehow get everything all the time (they are everywhere!) help other groups. You can correct mistakes. Clarify misconceptions, and fill in the gaps. You can give students hints on how to use technology; what to search for in Google, or what video to watch on YouTube. You can ask them to look in their notes or textbook or presentation you have available in the LMS (learning management system) you use.
It is important that students record their initial answers/solutions and keep them. Then, they should also record their corrections, so they can compare the new answer or solution to the original one. This leads to processing that allows them to bring misconceptions, misunderstandings, and the gaps in knowledge to the surface. Once identified and corrected they are replaced and students are a lot less likely to revert to them. They grow as learners.
So do it. Help your students brains grow by correcting their own mistakes.
But here’s the deal. Merely correcting mistakes is not enough. If you really want to dig deep, lead your students into the land of mistake analysis and metacognition. For deeper learning to occur, it is important for students to examine what mistakes they made and why, as well as reflect on their own thinking throughout the learning process. That is power. And, that is what post #4 is all about. Stay tuned for metacognition!
You Have The Power To Change The World. Use It Often.
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