Understanding our own learning




In order to catch up backlogs, a learner first needs to recognise that these backlogs exist.

There is an interesting phenomenon documented in the psychology research that is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

This is a cognitive bias in which individuals, in areas of knowledge where they are lacking, mistakenly believe that their ability is much greater than it really is. Some describe the effect as the less you know, the more you think you know! The problem with this is multiplied: if learners lack the skills to produce a correct answer, they are unable to know when their answer, (or anybody else’s), is right or wrong and because of this they will never learn how to answer correctly!

No one likes to make a mistake but the reality is that we learn the most from our mistakes!

This has also been confirmed by neuroscientists – recognising your mistake increases activity in the part of your brain involved in learning!

This means that we, as teachers, need to create a ‘safe’ environment in our classrooms where learners are comfortable giving a wrong answer, learners understand that wrong answers are as useful as correct answers and, learners are happy for other learners to help explore their wrong answers further.




  1. To err is human – and a powerful prelude to learning – by Claudia Wallis