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Study: Humans need to fail by 15% for better learning

A person needs to fail to work or study in order to succeed. Receiving rejection many times is part of the job and the learning journey. This failure means you are making the effort it takes.

It is also wise to acquire a new skill. Most people do not wake up with a decision to learn to play basketball, and then find themselves mastered the game and pay all their free throws by the evening. 

Or you may be familiar with the scourges and misfortunes of raising a plant for the first time: although you may spend the first year or so in frantic attempts to revive the climber-climber’s plant, mourning each fallen leaf, you eventually master its care methods.

Failure to study is an opportunity to learn

A new study published by MindBodyGreen suggests that there is science for each trial and error process; specifically, a team of psychologists call it the “85% rule”. 

The rule is that better learning occurs when you succeed only 85% of the time. In other words, you learn the fastest way when you fail 15% of the time.

Dr. Robert Wilson, a cognitive science specialist at the University of Arizona, who holds a Ph.D. and lead author of the study, said in a press release : “We put it on a mathematical basis.”

To produce results in numbers, Wilson and his colleagues experimented with calculating how quickly a computer could learn simple tasks, such as sorting patterns, or sorting handwritten numbers into odd and even numbers. 

When researchers changed the difficulty settings for tasks, they found that computers learned more quickly, adjusting the difficulty to the point where they solved problems with 85% accuracy.

Wilson said he did not necessarily believe that the results meant students should aim for moderate success in the classroom. But there may be some lessons for students and teachers. “If you learn very easy classrooms and excel them all the time, you probably don’t get as much education as someone who struggles with content, but is able to keep up,” he says.

Man needs to fail at work

Consider instead a functional environment in which you need to learn a new skill. Wilson is an example of an emerging radiologist, who needs to learn how to detect an x-ray tumor.

“You get better at detecting a tumor in some form over time, you need experience, and you need examples to improve,” Wilson said. I can imagine giving easy examples, giving difficult examples and giving medium examples. If you give very easy examples, you will discover the tumor 100% all the time, and there is nothing left to learn. “If you give really hard examples, you will hit 50% and you will not learn anything new, while if you give you an average example, you can be at this beautiful point, where you get the most information from each specific example.”

So if you are learning something new, do not be afraid to make mistakes from time to time (but of course you will want to keep the risks less than trying to diagnose a tumor), but the point remains: go ahead! Failure is part of the journey.