Confuse Students to Keep Them Engaged

In recent years, Professor Sidney D’Mello of the University of Notre Dame and Professor Arthur Graesser of the University of Memphis, conducted an interesting experiment trying to understand the delicate relationship between learning and confusion. Remarkable results were gained, which may change the face of learning as we know it.

Most view confusion in schools to be a negative thing and for completely understandable reasons. When some students are confused they can become bored and even complacent in their schooling. There is a common belief held that confusion should be dodged during learning, especially when students are tasked with memorizing facts and figures.

There is however a flip side to this scenario.

There are also those students that use their confusion as a tool to push them through stalemates of learning. As a result of pushing through the confusion, the students are often armed with a more distinct and clear understanding of the world around them. Researchers say “Confusions is likely to promote learning at deeper levels of comprehension under appropriate conditions.”

What does this mean exactly? It means that teachers may want to confuse their students from time to time. Why should they do this? It may actually help them to understand more complicated concepts. It is clear the D’Mello and Graesser were onto something.

Kolowich, S. (2014, August 14). Confuse Students to Help Them Learn. Retrieved August 27, 2014, from

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