Monday, September 29, 2008

Learning from your Mistakes is Not that Simple for Some!

A new study suggests that children under 12 years of age have a difficult time processing negative feedback and hence the ability to learn from their mistakes. According to an article in Science Daily...

"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."

This pattern has been seen in behavioral research as well as when scientists look inside the brain.
"In children of eight and nine, these areas of the brain react strongly to positive feedback and scarcely respond at all to negative feedback. But in children of 12 and 13, and also in adults, the opposite is the case. Their control centers' in the brain are more strongly activated by negative feedback and much less by positive feedback."

According to the researchers this may be because...
"From the literature, it appears that young children respond better to reward than to punishment...The information that you have not done something well is more complicated than the information that you have done something well. Learning from mistakes is more complex than carrying on in the same way as before. You have to ask yourself what precisely went wrong and how it was possible."

This is all very interesting and makes me think of many implications within the classroom.

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