Mistakes can lead to experiential learning. Experiential learning can lead to college credit through prior learning assessment. Keep reading to learn more about how to learn from mistakes and possibly earn college credit for what you have learned.
Some people take very few risks in life because they are afraid of failing or making a mistake. But, the truth is, everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are trivial. At other times, they may prove costly. In nearly every case, however, there is something to be learned.
Consider some things in our everyday lives that resulted from a mistake! Have you ever taken antibiotics for an infection? Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin by accident when he threw away his experiments and mold began to grow. As a child, did you play with a Slinky or silly putty? Both were created by accident, as were chocolate chip cookies and potato chips! Those last two were great mistakes!
How do we learn from our mistakes? Naturally, first, we have to put ourselves in a position to make the mistake. That may involve taking a risk, or being in a situation or position in which we are not entirely comfortable. Then, we need to recognize and own the mistake. Finally, we need to be willing to change or learn from the mistake.
Turning the mistake into a learning opportunity requires reflection. Think of the mistake as an experience, as shown in the diagram. The next stage in the learning cycle is reflection. We need to consider what happened and how the results came about. What could we do differently to change the result? Once we have thought about possible changes, we can repeat the action based on new insights and apply what we have learned. Doing so creates a new experience and the learning cycle continues. We learn more and more with each new experience.
What have you learned from a mistake or through experience? You may be able to earn college credit for prior experiential learning.
For more information about the benefits of prior learning assessment, visit
The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way. — Dale Carnegie
By Tedi Thompson-Magrini
Associate VP/Prior Learning Assessment at American Public University System