Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Confusion can be beneficial for learning: Study

21.06.2012
Most of us assume that confidence and certainty are preferred over uncertainty and bewilderment when it comes to learning complex information.

But a new study led by Sidney D'Mello of the University of Notre Dame shows that confusion when learning can be beneficial if it is properly induced, effectively regulated, and ultimately resolved.

The study will be published in a forthcoming issue of Learning and Instruction.

Notre Dame Psychologist and Computer Scientist D'Mello, whose research areas include artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction and the learning sciences, together with Art Graesser of the University of Memphis, collaborated on the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation.

They found that by strategically inducing confusion in a learning session on difficult conceptual topics, people actually learned more effectively and were able to apply their knowledge to new problems.

In a series of experiments, subjects learned scientific reasoning concepts through interactions with computer animated agents playing the roles of a tutor and a peer learner. The animated agents and the subject engaged in interactive conversations where they collaboratively discussed the merits of sample research studies that were flawed in one critical aspect. For example, one hypothetical case study touted the merits of a diet pill, but was flawed because it did not include an appropriate control group. Confusion was induced by manipulating the information the subjects received so that the animated agents' sometimes disagreed with each other and expressed contradictory or incorrect information. The agents then asked subjects to decide which opinion had more scientific merit, thereby putting the subject in the hot-spot of having to make a decision with incomplete and sometimes contradictory information.
In addition to the confusion and uncertainty triggered by the contradictions, subjects who were confused scored higher on a difficult post-test and could more successfully identify flaws in new case studies.
"We have been investigating links between emotions and learning for almost a decade, and find that confusion can be beneficial to learning if appropriately regulated because it can cause learners to process the material more deeply in order to resolve their confusion," D'Mello says.

According to D'Mello, it is not advisable to intentionally confuse students who are struggling or induce confusion during high-stakes learning activities. Confusion interventions are best for higher level learners who want to be challenged with difficult tasks, are willing to risk failure, and who manage negative emotions when they occur.

"It is also important that the students are productively instead of hopelessly confused. By productive confusion, we mean that the source of the confusion is closely linked to the content of the learning session, the student attempts to resolve their confusion, and the learning environment provides help when the student struggles. Furthermore, any misleading information in the form of confusion-induction techniques should be corrected over the course of the learning session, as was done in the present experiments."

According to D'Mello, the next step in this body of research is to apply these methods to some of the more traditional domains like physics where misconceptions are common.

Sidney D'Mello | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nd.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

Im Focus: New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater

Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions

It's possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF...

Im Focus: Small collisions make big impact on Mercury's thin atmosphere

Mercury, our smallest planetary neighbor, has very little to call an atmosphere, but it does have a strange weather pattern: morning micro-meteor showers.

Recent modeling along with previously published results from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft -- short for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

Conference Week RRR2017 on Renewable Resources from Wet and Rewetted Peatlands

28.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A single photon reveals quantum entanglement of 16 million atoms

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The melting ice makes the sea around Greenland less saline

16.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

16.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>