Believe it or not, bit of confusion is really beneficial when trying to learn a new thing.
Researchers found that people who experience bewilderment when they begin to learn something are better at learning than people who are not confused. It was also found that this process also make them apply the information in various situations.
But, the confusion must be appropriately regulated and resolved to aid the learning process, researchers say.
Researchers induced confusion in the test subjects by providing them contradictory information and opinions. They found that learners who were exposed to contradictions were better at grasping the idea later. Even tests taken after the experiments revealed that people who were confused initially and then learned by clearing all the information clutter retained more information and got higher scores than people who weren't confused.
"We have been investigating links between emotions and learning for almost a decade, and find that confusion can be beneficial to learning if appropriately regulated because it can cause learners to process the material more deeply in order to resolve their confusion," said lead author of the study Sidney D'Mello, Psychologist and Computer Scientist at the University of Notre Dame.
However, confusion should be addressed soon and any misleading information must be cleared during the learning process itself. Researchers call this induced confusion as "productive confusion". They also add that this confusion-method must be applied only to high-level learners and not to students. People who can handle negativity and failure are more likely to benefit by this method of learning.
"It is also important that the students are productively instead of hopelessly confused. By productive confusion, we mean that the source of the confusion is closely linked to the content of the learning session, the student attempts to resolve their confusion, and the learning environment provides help when the student struggles. Furthermore, any misleading information in the form of confusion-induction techniques should be corrected over the course of the learning session, as was done in the present experiments," D'Mello said.
The study is published in the journal Learning and Instruction.