Getting Started With Errorless Learning

Learning to Learn

Before students are able to sit and be productive in a classroom, work in a small group or even complete a worksheet you need to teach students how to learn. In my classroom we call this ‘learning to learn’. I teach a K-2 self contained autism classroom and when students come in who are new to my classroom, this is often the case. If you are at a loss and don’t know where to start teaching students how to learn, this post is for you. Errorless learning is my go-to when students are ready to complete short tasks with an adult. Here’s everything you need to know about errorless learning and how to use it in the classroom.

What it is and it Works

Errorless learning tasks are rooted in the concept that minimizing errors promotes confidence and success. Errorless work involves setting up a task or activity in such a way that students are guided to produce correct response, which minimizes the chance of the student creating errors. This not only allows the student to experience success in completing a task, it also increases the rate of reinforcement. In simple terms, we give the student a task that is simple to complete with just one way to complete the task. Some of my favorite errorless tasks are Easy Matching Weekly Workbooks and Errorless Task Cards. These items not only work on errorless tasks but also give teachers a way to step out of errorless tasks by incorporating simple matching strategies. 

Benefits of Errorless Work

  • Promotes Success! By structuring tasks to guarantee correct responses from the student, errorless work builds students’ confidence and self-esteem. Enter behavioral momentum! Success leads to motivation, leading to increased engagement and willingness to participate in learning activities.
  • Reduces Frustration! For students (with or without autism), repeated failure can lead to frustration. Errorless work tasks minimizes frustration by eliminating the possibility of incorrect answers.
  • Generalization! Errorless learning helps students generalize skills to different contexts or settings. By consistently reinforcing correct responses, students grasp concepts more effectively, leading to better retention and application of skills beyond the classroom.

Tips to Get Started

  • Break tasks into manageable, small steps. To ensure success, divide tasks into smaller, achievable steps. Provide clear instructions and demonstrations to guide students through the process.
  • Use visual supports: Visual aids such as picture cues can help students understand expectations and prompt a correct responses. Visual supports cater to different learning styles and enhance comprehension.
  • Provide immediate feedback: Reinforce correct responses immediately! This helps to solidify learning and reinforce positive behavior. 
  • Gradually fade prompts: Once students demonstrate mastery, gradually reduce the level of support or prompts provided. This allows students to develop independence and transfer skills to new situations.

Errorless work is a powerful tool in the classroom. By minimizing errors and maximizing success, special education teachers can create successful learning opportunities where students can thrive and ‘learn to learn’. Incorporating errorless work strategies into daily instruction not only fosters academic success but also nurtures students’ confidence, independence, and love for learning.

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