ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—A fear of failure can hinder academic success. Many students become so focused on avoiding errors that they don’t challenge themselves at school. And now remote learning has amplified this problem for some. But new research shows mistakes may actually be the key to learning.
No one likes them, but mistakes happen, both big and small. But could making mistakes in school be a good thing?
“There’s learning that happens when children experience some challenges academically,” said Angel Harris, PhD, a Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University.
Researchers from Columbia University reviewed numerous studies and found that when students make errors that are followed up with corrective feedback, they learn better and ultimately remember the correct answers long-term. And the benefit of making an error was strongest when the student firmly believed their answer was correct. This research suggests parents and teachers should encourage and support low-risk mistakes, but also give clear feedback so students can learn. To help your child overcome a fear of failure, emphasize effort over ability. That means praising your child for working hard, instead of getting an answer correct. Also, encourage students to practice self-compassion when they fail. And model a healthy response to failure when you make a mistake.
A recent survey by Linkagoal found that 31 percent of adults reported suffering from a fear of failure, a larger percentage than those who feared spiders.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Julie Marks, Field Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).