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Finally part 2 on mistakes – Errors

January 31, 2008

An error occurs when an incorrect or incomplete solution is applied to a problem. During training this usually appears as an unsuccessful attempt at a task or implementing a solution to the predicament. At first glance it could just be put down to a simple ‘stuff up’ or not enough practice but when you delve deeper a few possibilities become available.

There are four error groups

  • Incorrect or insufficient knowledge
  • Incorrect or insufficient skill
  • Incorrect attitude
  • Incorrect diagnosis

Incorrect or insufficient knowledge. Errors of this type occur because the student didn’t know how to solve the problem. They may have had the appropriate skills and correctly identified the problem from the start but were just not aware of what the correct or best solution to be applied was.

Incorrect or insufficient skill. Skill based errors usually occur because of lack of practice or interference. A student may be able to apply the solution in isolation but when distracted by other events, is unable to perform. The interference may be imagined such as perceived pressure or physiological in nature such as fatigue or illness. Typically though is just a simple unfamiliarity with the application of their knowledge.

Incorrect attitude. I refer here to workplace ‘norms’ as opposed to sabotage. Although self destructive behaviour is a possibility, errors of this type usually occur because the student had observed someone else applying the solution or through other sources identified this as the best solution for this particular problem. The assumption here is that the student effectively chose to fail and could have completed the task otherwise.

Incorrect diagnosis. At first glance you may think that this should be classified in the first category as a knowledge issue but what I’m referring to here is the student implementing (successfully in some cases) the wrong solution. The assumption is that the student has the knowledge, skills and attitude prerequisites but chose the wrong path. In the first category, the student lacked the knowledge prerequisite (at the very least)

A solution?

Once again, the solution will vary with the reason. Is it practice, is it knowledge, is it experience or is it just clarifying standards? At least with these classifications, you and the student come to grips with why they did what they did.

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