Failure can be a scary word. When we fail at something, we often question our self-worth, our skills, and our goals. But is there a way that “failing” can actually tell us something different about ourselves? Is there a way, rather than be struck down by failure, we can be motivated and even guided by it?
There would be no reason to take a course if you already knew everything about that subject. That said, it can be hard to determine where your gaps in knowledge might fall. This is where pretesting comes in.
Many MindEdge learning resources start with a pretest.
Pretesting is an important part of the learning process. Knowing where students stand in relationship to course material, from the get-go, helps guide their learning. Taking a pretest at the beginning of a course, and at the beginning of each learning module or assignment, can help students in understanding their starting place. They can see which areas need extra attention as they work through the course material. In essence, a pretest guides their learning.
Research by Nate Kornell, Matthew Hays, and Robert Bjork at UCLA has shown that “People remember things better, longer, if they are given very challenging tests on the material, tests at which they are bound to fail.” Their research further found that “if students make an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve information before receiving an answer, they remember the information better than in a control condition in which they simply study the information. Trying and failing to retrieve the answer is actually helpful to learning. It’s an idea that has obvious applications for education, but could be useful for anyone who is trying to learn new material of any kind.” (Source: Henry L. Roediger and Bridgid Finn, Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn,”” Scientific American, October 20, 2009)
By initially “failing,” students can see exactly where they need to grow. Benedict Carey, a science reporter for The New York Times who has written a book on learning, puts it well: “We fail, but we fail forward.”
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