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Why Mistakes Are Important Part of Learning Process

by - Diana Thenerd

Posted on January 24, 2019 18:28

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way, especially in the academic life. Students often feel shame when they make an error. Too often success in the classroom is determined by high marks and correct answers. Mistakes serve to evaluate what a student does not know.

However, there is a positive side to getting things wrong as students can make mistakes an important part of the learning process. When students are mindful of incorrect solution concepts while working on a problem, they are able to cope up better with the problems at a deeper level. Whether it is doing classwork or playing a game, developing friendship or solving unique problems, the process of learning is aided through mistakes. Learning from errors is a part of how we challenge ourselves to learn to do things differently.

What should be a teacher’s role in making the most of student’s mistakes-

  • Cognitive scientists have done lots of research on how making mistakes help us learn. As a teacher, you have to let students encourage the effort of the students instead of giving preference only to the final product. Yes, we want them to do things the right way, but we need to let them learn from their mistakes. This is a real-life situation because when the students get out in the real world, they will make mistakes, and they need to learn that it isn’t the end of the world
  • When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.
  • Rather than reviewing exams in class and providing students with the correct answer, allowing students to earn extra points on their grade by making “corrections” will help them to recognize mistakes they make, like not checking their work, but this will only reinforce that they need to follow the process of generating an answer and then checking the calculations and better understand the concepts.
  • Use past, anonymous examples of student work that include mistakes or incorrect responses and engage students in finding the errors and deciding what that learner would need to learn to move forward. Invite students to reflect on how doing this independently with their own work could help improve their growth and achievement.


When students recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment, they will learn quickly and the chances are higher that they will commit fewer mistakes and stay away from repeating them.

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