Thursday, July 31, 2008


The responses to the July’s Question, “When Learners get it Wrong: Handling Incorrect Responses without Intimidating the Learner Discussion” were great examples of the fact that there really isn’t one right way to address any teaching question. The following are just a few “pearls” from the list.

  • It is important to build a safe learning environment so that learners are willing to ask and answer questions.

  • If the learner is more advanced and seems certain of an incorrect fact, ask a follow-up question concerning their source. If no one has supporting evidence send the individual or group out to find the correct response.

  • Look for a “kernel of truth” in the response and work from there.
  • For early learners, ask questions in a form that doesn’t require “one right answer”.
  • When asking questions, know the difference between “wrong” and “not my way” and respond accordingly.
  • Try to avoid “what am I thinking” questions
  • Respectfully correct the response and “move on”

What our faculty “bloggers” were telling us on this issue is that their solutions depend on the context. In this case “time” was sometimes a factor. Another factor was “importance of the answer to “good practice”. Another factor was the existing relationship you have with the learner group. Teaching, like medicine and to a lesser degree science, is an "it depends" profession!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


WHEN LEARNERS GET IT WRONG: Handling Incorrect Responses Without Intimidating the Learner and Turning Off Discussion.

When doing observations of teaching in the classroom and clinics, I often pay special attention to how faculty handle incorrect responses. Some teachers use the incorrect response as a springboard for teaching. Others -move on- asking another student or resident to help out. Another group answers the question themselves while still another group (unfortunately) ridicules or makes fun of the incorrect response. While we all can agree that the last strategy is probably not the best, is there one best way to make sure the learner and the rest of the group are clear about the correct answer while not shutting down that learner or the others that are in the group?

What works for you? Is there one best way? Is there clearly a wrong way? Do we worry too much about hurting our learners feelings?