Principles of cognitive science in education: The effects of generation, errors, and feedback
Principles of cognitive science hold the promise of helping children to study more effectively, yet they do not always make successful transitions from the laboratory to applied settings and have rarely been tested in such settings. For example, self-generation of answers to questions should help children to remember. But what if children cannot generate anything? And what if they make an error? Do these deviations from the laboratory norm of perfect generation hurt, and, if so, do they hurt enough that one should, in practice, spurn generation? Can feedback compensate, or are errors catastrophic? The studies reviewed here address three interlocking questions in an effort to better implement a computer-based study program to help children learn: (1) Does generation help? (2) Do errors hurt if they are corrected? And (3) what is the effect of feedback? The answers to these questions are: Yes, generation helps; no, surprisingly, errors that are corrected do not hurt; and, finally, feedback is beneficial in verbal learning. These answers may help put cognitive scientists in a better position to put their well-established principles in the service of children’s learning.