The Importance of Failing

Cognitive psychologists have shown how central failure is to learning. For example, Collins and Brown have found that errors are essential to the creation of mental strategies in problem solving. Van Lehn has shown that real learning only occurs at an impasse during a problem-solving episode. Research by Foss has shown that not only do students learn when they encounter errors, but they also improve their ability to "detect errant solution strategies." In other words, when faced with errors, students learn not only about the subject at hand but also more generally how to plan solutions to similar problems.

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