Sunday, September 28, 2008

When do people start learning from their mistakes?

Well, for some people, the answer to that question would be never, but generally it happens when children grow older. The question is of course, how old?

According to a new study, the answer to that question is after they've turned 12.

ScienceDaily reports the story.

Learning From Mistakes Only Works After Age 12, Study Suggests

Eight-year-old children have a radically different learning strategy from twelve-year-olds and adults. Eight-year-olds learn primarily from positive feedback ('Well done!'), whereas negative feedback ('Got it wrong this time') scarcely causes any alarm bells to ring. Twelve-year-olds are better able to process negative feedback, and use it to learn from their mistakes. Adults do the same, but more efficiently.


This would indicate that different teaching strategies are needed for different age-groups. Pre-teens should be taught through positive feedback, while teens and older should also have negative feedback mixed in.

The ScienceDaily article goes into more details, and is well worth reading. The original study by van Duijvenvoorde et al., Evaluating the Negative or Valuing the Positive? Neural Mechanisms Supporting Feedback-Based Learning across Development, can be found here at The Journal of Neuroscience, but is unfortunately behind a paywall.

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