Errors in Training

Imagine you’re in charge of training medical students to conduct ultrasounds. The students will complete a three-hour simulation-based training program. Which set of directions would offer them? Read the options and then make your choice below.

Follow the exact simulator instructions step by step to complete the assignment. Do not try other alternatives and be sure that you understand what to do and how to proceed. It is important that you move the probe as precisely as possible and you should aim to find the most correct measurements using a structured approach like the one you just watched in the video. Focus on the task at hand and progress at your own speed. It is better to take a little longer and be more accurate. Aim for the highest possible score and try to make as few errors as possible. Focus on what you are doing correctly when you proceed to the next task.

Experiment and explore as much as you like during the simulator practice. You are allowed to move the probe freely around to obtain different angles of the same anatomical structure. Although the task at hand and instructions to complete the assignment are very specific, you do not need to stick to the instructions provided at all times. It is important that you take your time to play around. When you feel ready, complete the module as you think it should be completed. Even though you might make a lot of errors, think of them in a positive way: remember that errors are byproducts of learning.

Encourage Students to Avoid Mistakes
The results of a recent research study disagree. The participants in this study who were encouraged to commit errors learned more than those instructed to commit as few errors as possible. Importantly, this wasn’t just assessed by a post-course test: actual on-the-job performance was measured.

Read Imperfect Practice Makes Perfect: Error Management Training Improves Transfer of Learning in the journal Medical Education.

Encourage Students to Make Mistakes

The results of a recent research study agree. The participants in this study who were encouraged to commit errors learned more than those instructed to commit as few errors as possible. Importantly, this wasn’t just assessed by a post-course test: actual on-the-job performance was measured.

Read Imperfect Practice Makes Perfect: Error Management Training Improves Transfer of Learning in the journal Medical Education.

About the Author

Ben Butina, Ph.D.
Dr. Butina, who hosts the Department 12 Podcast, is an industrial-organizational psychologist with interests in training, leadership development, talent management, and positive psychology in the workplace.

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