by Eric Mack, Inc. Magazine, 11/6/19.
…it turns out, there may be a sweet spot for failing, according to new research out from a team led by the University of Arizona with help from researchers at Brown University, Princeton, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Their new study, out in the journal Nature Communications and titled “The Eighty Five Percent Rule for Optimal Learning,” makes the case that getting it wrong 15 percent of the time is actually the “sweet spot” for learning.
“These ideas that were out there in the education field–that there is this ‘zone of proximal difficulty,’ in which you ought to be maximizing your learning–we’ve put that on a mathematical footing,” said lead author and Arizona professor of psychology and cognitive science Robert Wilson, in a release.
…“If you have an error rate of 15 percent or accuracy of 85 percent, you are always maximizing your rate of learning in these two-choice tasks,” Wilson said, adding that the 85 percent rule was also seen to hold in previous studies of animal learning.
…If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.
“If you are taking classes that are too easy and acing them all the time, then you probably aren’t getting as much out of a class as someone who’s struggling but managing to keep up,” Wilson said.
Learning comes from challenges and challenges come with a risk of failure. What’s new is that we now know that risk should be at about 15 percent.