The forced learning through mistakes: writing an abstract for the RTD conference

June 10, 2018 - Mistakes in Education

My research is getting more and more merged with my activities as professional. And that is lovely. But it is also bringing me new (and sometimes ugly) tasks. In my inbox, I received the call for proposals for the Research through design conference 2019. And yes, that would be a great place to share my findings. But the format is a hard one: an anonymous abstract of 250 words. But let’s not avoid difficult opportunities. So I started an abstract on my research.

In my head, I hear my teacher (Hanneke) of storytelling say “It will take at least 7 versions before a story is good”. But I think my first approach is pretty good. Until I receive the feedback from my research professor. I am very honored (and lucky bastard) to achieve that much feedback from this professor. In the end, it took 9 versions to come up with an abstract that was ‘good enough’ to propose. There are 260 proposals, so it will be hard to get through. But this writing was a really helpful thing.

Received feedback (glimpse of mistakes I made, in chronologic order)

The storyline begins to make sense.
– try to be more affermative: “is the key” instead of “can be”
– be consistent in terminology: is the final step “testing” or “rinse & repeat”?
The 2nd paragraph is too much text on the first probe with makers and too little over your work with educators.
English is still somewhat clumsy

It is becoming better, yes.
– is it important that this is a master project
– why do you introduce mishaps without using it
– you say “learning from mistakes was hidden” – but how is it possible to registrate mistakes? Make that clear.
– Can you add something what you did with the probes and how this was used

Had another stab at the abstract, not counting words yet.
Next on: paragraph 3 — “We asked teachers …” <= this needs to be clear on the designerly approach, less focus op results more focus on the collection of it, because that is your intervention

no, I do not think that we are almost done yet. The last 3 sentences are still too weak. and also the hardest – because here you describe the results of the analysis of the booklets

Yes (as reaction on my statement on the why, and the question if that makes sense). and: how does it make teachers designers?

We will get there..


Forced learning through mistakes seems to work when:

  • the teacher is in a positive coach-mode
  • the teacher has a lot of patience
  • the student is willing to learn
  • there is something at stake