Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ERN more with self-esteem; correct more (pronunciation) errors!

Clip art: Clker
Clip art: Clker

Interesting study by Legault and colleagues of Clarkson University, summarized by Science Daily, which looked at the effect of self-affirmation on responding to errors or mistakes. Self-affirmation was operationalized by having subjects rank their top six personal values and then write a 5-minute mini-essay on the top one. In a subsequent experimental task they proved to be better at correcting errors than the control group. Now having students do something like that every class is probably not feasible but the underlying principle is worth considering. Self-affirmative thought, according to the researchers, activates a neurological response termed "error-related negativity"(ERN)--which, in turn makes one more alert to errors and, apparently, better able to respond to them. In this case, with attention just having been focused on "higher" values, the "negative" reaction proves beneficial. The importance of insuring that learners' attention is continually brought back, if only temporarily, to the tangible progress that they have made--and where they are headed--is almost a given in the field. How that works and how to nurture it consistently (and haptically!) has remained something of a mystery. Until now. But we are l-ERNing . . . 

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