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July 9, 2007

An omission is something that has been left out, overlooked or neglected. During training, an omission is generally a task that is not only not completed, but also not started. To simplify classification, I will also extend this to include any task or element not attempted.

Why did this happen?

I establish the reason why something hasn’t been done in terms of failure (a little glass is half empty I know). This can be classified into five groups or types of omission failures.

  • Failure to observe,
  • Failure to recognise,
  • Failure to know,
  • Failure to apply, or
  • Failure to Act

Failure to Observe. A failure to observe is when a student does not see the problem that needs to be fixed. They didn’t act because they believe that there was no reason to. At first glance this may seem difficult to fix – how do teach someone to see better? Of course this typically has other contributors like not knowing what to look for or being distracted.

Failure to Recognise.
A failure to recognise is the blissful ignorance of fully observing a problem unwind and thinking it to be of no relevance to the overall situation. This is typically a knowledge based issue in which either the symptoms or consequences aren’t associated with the situation. Recognition may occur after the event, but typically it is the consequenses that are observed at this stage.

Failure to Know. The student observes a problem and watches with horror at the events unfolding. They identify the problem and are typically aware of the impact it will have on future events but lack the knowledge or (ignore the ‘know’ as a reference to competencies) skills to rectify it.

Failure to Apply. Similar to the previous case, a failure to apply stops the student in their tracks as they lack either the experience or skill level to deal with the circumstances. They have the knowledge or skill to do something about it but fail to do so because the believe it to be beyond their capability (mistakenly or not). This could be due to knowledge, skill (practice required) or attitude issues.

Failure to Act. The student could have dealt with the problem but didn’t do so. The reasons could be time, distraction or other associated pressures. It could also have been physical prevention in terms of a barrier, environmental conditions or even mistakenly been under the impression that they weren’t allowed to do it. The reasons for this type of omission vary dramatically and the solutions will do likewise.

Finding a solution

By understanding the type (or types – combinations can also occur) of problem faced you can identify the type of remedial action (if any) required. The types can also represent the typical learning process in terms of progressive stages even if somewhat vaguely. None-the-less, identifying the root of the problem can help a student develop their own improvement strategies rather then dwell on them unhealthily.

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