A recent conference paper published as part of the EAI/Springer Innovations in Communication and Computing book series (EAISICC) found that “mistake-driven training provides students with a risk-free setting to explore different actions”.
Mistakes do happen, and culturally speaking, we all recognize that people learn from their mistakes. But can you allow your employees to make mistakes while learning? It can seem counterintuitive, but mistake-driven corporate training may be an unexpected way to improve learning outcomes.
Mistake-driven corporate learning helps your corporate trainees learn and retain the knowledge of the correct solution more effectively. By making mistakes, your employees learn what can go wrong, and how to rectify the situation, in a safe learning environment. Interestingly, mistake-driven learning can help reduce mistakes.
Mistake-driven instructional design
Quizzes are usually considered an assessment tool. However, quizzes can be used as a training tool as well. Instead of giving consolidated results at the end of the quiz, consider displaying the correct answer as soon as the user has selected the option they believe is right. Alongside, include why this is the right answer, and (if feasible) the possible reason why the learner got it wrong. By sharing the correct answer immediately after the mistake, the learner remembers the error he/she made and learns how to correct it.
- Branching scenarios
When developing branching scenarios for your case study simulations, include ‘almost right’ realistic options. Allow your user to make mistakes that could happen in the real world. This way, they understand how easy it is to make mistakes and stay on their guard in similar situations.
The idea is to learn from these mistakes made, not simply to make mistakes, so don’t let the simulation guide them too far away from the right path! Explain why the choice was wrong and guide them back towards the correct answer.
Storytelling is an extremely effective method of training delivery. Selecting or writing the right anecdotes for your corporate e-learning content is key, here. When telling stories of mistakes, don’t create tales that are esoteric, unusual or rarely occur. Prioritize real-world relevance. Choose the kinds of mistakes that regularly occur during normal operations, so that users can learn more effectively. Most importantly, emphasize potential solutions. Look for teachable moments, not horror stories!
Mistake-driven learning should not follow a one-and-done approach to instructional design. Allow learners to repeat modules as many times as they feel it is necessary, until they are satisfied that they have mastered the concept. Especially allow learners to repeat and redo branching scenarios.
When learners run through these case study simulations multiple times, they make different choices and learn from new mistakes. This gives them a better understanding of the underlying concept and thus improves learning outcomes.
When your learners make mistakes in the course of simulations, games, quizzes or any other interactive learning/assessment apparatus, ensure that you provide detailed, constructive feedback. This helps learners understand how to improve decision-making in real-world situations.
There is a natural element of embarrassment associated with making a mistake. Overcome it by clearly communicating the message that mistakes happen. Perfection is not the goal – the goal is learning and growth. Mistake-driven corporate learning helps improve problem-solving skills and knowledge retention, and so is a valuable emerging tool in your e-learning arsenal. Talk to us to see how your instructional design can turn mistakes into teaching opportunities.