The Rat Is Never Wrong: Training with an Errorless Learning Mindset

We all know the saying, “We learn from our mistakes.” But, mistakes resulting from poorly designed training can be costly: Learners practice errors, which can make correct responding less likely, and learners can become frustrated as a result of the low rate of reinforcement. These costs led researchers and practitioners to ask, “Are errors really necessary for learning to occur?” 

Errorless learning is a term used to describe a teaching approach that reduces incorrect responses. In this presentation, the basic elements of designing an errorless learning environment, and considerations for using errors to improve your training plans, will be discussed.

Susan G. Friedman, PhD

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. Susan has co-authored chapters on behavior change in four veterinary texts, and her popular articles have been translated into 14 languages. She teaches courses and seminars on animal learning and consults with zoos around the world. Susan was appointed to the F&WS Condor Recovery Team from 2002 - 2010, after which time the team was retired due to the success of the birds in the wild. 

She is the Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane Association (AHA) Film and TV Unit, and a member in good standing of ABAI, ABMA, and IAABC.