We recently learned about our midterm examination scores for Acupuncture I class. Sadly, only four out of ten students passed the exam. Being one of the six students who scored a few points shy from the passing mark, I took some time to reflect (although I did brood for a while) and to accept the fact about the examination score. What had gone wrong? I had studied well for the test and had submitted it with full confidence that I would pass. On the other hand, my fellow classmate was so affected about her failure that she skipped lunch and sulked for the rest of the day. For us, there were two obvious options regarding the results of the assessment: first, to sulk in one corner and to beat onself up because of the mistakes in the examination and second, to learn from those mistakes and to dedicate more time into studying and understanding the material (even if the content of the assessment method and andragogy was partially at fault). I chose the latter, since I had come to realization that one exam would not completely define my learning, knowledge, and skill in the matter since I did well on the practical exam – after all, knowing where to put the needle on the body can mean life or death (although not discounting the importance of theory). I noted the areas where I needed to improve and dedicated to studying more about the theories of acupuncture and point location.
The two options I mentioned earlier are indicative of two dominant mindsets when it comes to performance and assessment: there is the fixed mindset (no room for failures, intelligence is limited) and there is the growth mindset (failures are a means to success and learning). Of the two, the latter is more important in real-life: learning how to cope with failure and subsequently, adapting, growing, and persevering will make more resilient and productive individuals. Yet between the two, we all know that the fixed mindset is the most predominant in society and in the classroom. Occasionally, we can see a parent or two boasting on social media about their child with a high ranking or grades (which is natural), which fuels further the competitiveness and individualism that the system perpetuates. In order to be on top, there needs to be no failure or no mistakes because it would entail a lower score or lower performance. Hence, it is important for parents and teachers to teach children the importance and benefits of failure so that they can use them to grow as individuals. After all, studies show that EQ, more than IQ, is a better predictor of success in the workplace.
Given that there needs to be a growth mindset, feedback becomes an important part of assessment because it can help students improve their learning and help teachers improve their teaching. Whether non-verbal, verbal, solicited, or unsolicited, the importance of critical self-reflection, awareness, and action upon ones’ reflection must be emphasized in the feedback process for both students and teachers. Even in our interpersonal lives, it depends on you on what you do with the information you accept and receive about how you perform and act in relation to a particular goal. We also give feedback to loved ones and friends if we feel it would help them reach their own goals.
For now, back to studying to reach my life goals.