The significance of dealing with mistakes for student achievement and motivation: results of doubly latent multilevel analyses

Abstract

From a constructivist perspective on learning, mistakes are seen as natural elements of learning processes. A supportive and constructive way of dealing with student mistakes has shown to affect students’ individual motivation and learning performances in a favorable way. In classroom settings, however, making mistakes is not just a personal but also a social event. Dealing with mistakes should therefore be considered as both student-level and classroom-level characteristic. This study investigates three aspects of dealing with mistakes and their relevance for students’ achievement and motivation in English as a foreign language by analyzing the aspects at student and classroom level. The aspects are (a) teacher attitude toward mistakes, (b) teacher response to student mistakes, and (c) students’ perception of mistakes as useful for learning. Analyzing data of 5266 students from 427 classes in German secondary schools, the results demonstrate that at student level, all three aspects of dealing with mistakes affect students’ individual achievement as well as motivation in English language class. At classroom level, none of the aspects affect student average achievement. Two aspects affect student average motivation at the classroom level, namely (a) teacher attitude toward mistakes and (c) students’ shared perception of the usefulness of mistakes for learning. Our results show that students’ individual and shared perception of dealing with mistakes affect students’ motivational and cognitive learning outcomes in different ways. Furthermore, our findings underline the relevance of teachers’ attitudes as well as students’ perceptions concerning mistakes for student learning and motivation in English as a foreign language class.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The items were translated into English by the authors.

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Funding

The present study is a result of the Thin Slices project, which is collaboratively conducted by researchers at the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education and the Goethe University Frankfurt. The preparation of this paper was financially supported by grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, grant number 01LSA1501B).

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Correspondence to Julia Käfer.

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Julia Käfer, M.Sc. DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education, Departement of Educaitonal Quality and Evaluation, Rostocker Straße 6, 60323 Frankfurt am Main, Germany, www.dipf.de

Current themes of research:

Dealing with Mistakes in Classroom Settings

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

No previous publications

Dr. Susanne Kuger. German Youth Institute, Department of Social Monitoring and Methodology, Nockherstr. 2, 81541 Munich, Germany, www.dji.de

Current themes of research:

(International) Large-Scale Assessments & Educational Effectiveness Research in Early Childhood and School Age

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Jude, N. & Kuger, S. (2018). Questionnaire Development and Design for International Large-Scale Assessments (ILSAs). Current Practice, Challenges, and Recommendations. In: National Academy of Education (Eds.):Workshop Series on Methods and Policy Uses of International Large-Scale Assessments (ILSAs). Washington DC, USA: National Academy of Education

Kuger, S., Klieme, E., Jude, N., & Kaplan, D. (Eds.). (2016). Assessing contexts of learning. An international perspective. Dordrecht: Springer.

Kuger, S., Kluczniok, K., Kaplan, D. & Roßbach, H. (2016). Stability and patterns of classroom quality in German early childhood education and care. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 27(3), 418−440. https://doi.org/10.1080/09243453.2015.1112815.2

Prof. Dr. Eckhard Klieme. German Institute for International Educational Research, Department of Educational Quality and Evaluation, Schloßst. 29, 60486 Frankfurt am Main, Germany, www.dipf.de

Current themes of research:

(International) Educational Effectiveness Research

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Decristan, J., Klieme, E., Kunter, M., Hochweber, J., Büttner, G., Fauth, B., Hondrich, A. L., Rieser, S., Hertel, S. & Hardy, I. (2015). Embedded formative assessment and classroom process quality: How do they interact in promoting students’ science understanding? American Educational Research Journal, 52(6), 1133–1159. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831215596412.

Klieme, E. & Kuger, S. (2015). PISA 2015 context questionnaires framework. In PISA 2015 assessment and analytical framework: Science, reading, mathematic and financial literacy (pp. 101-127). Paris: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264255425-7-en

Klieme, E., Hu, Y. & Peng, P. (2014). The Application of International Large-Scale Assessment on Educational Effectiveness Research. Journal of Education Research in China, 3, 39–47.

Prof. Dr. Mareike Kunter. Goethe University Frankfurt, Faculty of Psychology and Sports Sciences, Department for Educational Psychology, Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 1, 60323 Frankfurt am Main, Germany, www.uni-frankfurt.de

Current themes of research:

Teacher Competences & Professional Development of Teachers

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Kleickmann, T., Tröbst, S., Heinze, A., Anschütz, A., Rink, R., & Kunter, M. (in press). Teacher knowledge experiment: Conditions of the development of pedagogical content knowledge. In D. Leutner, J. Fleischer, J. Grünkorn & E. Klieme (Eds.), Competence assessment in education: Research, models and instruments. New York, NY: Springer.

Kunter, M., & Holzberger, D. (2014). Loving teaching: Research on teachers' intrinsic orientations. In P. W. Richardson, S. A. Karabenick & H. M. G. Watt (Eds.), Teacher motivation: Theory and practice (pp. 83-99). New York: Routledge.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 4 Tests of measurement invariance via ML-CFA. Summary of goodness of fit statistics

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Käfer, J., Kuger, S., Klieme, E. et al. The significance of dealing with mistakes for student achievement and motivation: results of doubly latent multilevel analyses. Eur J Psychol Educ 34, 731–753 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-018-0408-7

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Keywords

  • Mistake culture
  • Error management
  • Classroom teaching and learning
  • English as a foreign language
  • Multilevel analysis