Often times, as students are working through questions with a tutor, the tutor will observe that the student is making a mistake and promptly correct it. As much as this might seem like the right course of action, it’s actually not always what’s best for the student. This probably seems counter-intuitive, but there are 2 key reasons why letting a student get the wrong answer is key to the student’s success:
1) We Remember Our Mistakes
Students will better understand the “right way” if they fully navigate and appreciate what the “wrong way” is. If a tutor corrects an error immediately, students will often forget that they were even making an error, and are more likely to repeat it in another question. In order to have true understanding, it’s important to understand why the wrong way is wrong, as much as why the right way is right. This way, if a student starts down the wrong path again with a later question, they will recognize it, remember why it’s wrong, and remember how they need to correct it.
2) Tutoring is About Understanding How the Student Thinks
Although tutors may have many tips and tricks for how to solve questions, there are in fact numerous ways to solve math and science questions that are all valid. Given that the student is the one that has to do the assignments and write the tests, it should be the tutors goal to understand how the student thinks, in order to figure out how best to provide that student with the tools that they need. With this in mind, there is no better way to understand how a student thinks than to just let them do the question. Corrections can come later, but allowing a student to do what they would naturally do is a great way to understand their thought process, understand where the gaps are, and ultimately do the best possible job as a tutor.
This post is meant to illustrate the importance of letting students get questions wrong. The wrong answer can be AS important as the right answer, both for students and for the tutors, and understanding this will ultimately allow for the best possible results in tutoring.