Photo: Marco Montalti
Deliberate Errors | Higher Order Learning
In the traditional Japanese art of kintsugi, broken ceramics are given a new lease of life by mending them with lacquer dusted with gold—instead of being concealed, the cracks on the damaged artifacts are illuminated with seams of gold, and valued as part of the objects’ unique history.
Indeed, errors are inevitable in life. Whereas they have traditionally been viewed as aversive events, my research has developed a Prevention–Permission–Promotion (3P) framework that considers how errors can be best positioned to enhance learning (Wong & Lim, 2019, Educational Psychologist). Based on this framework, I have innovated the counterintuitive learning strategy of deliberate erring, in which people are guided to intentionally commit and correct errors in low-stakes contexts.
In multiple studies, I have shown that deliberate erring improves learning more than avoiding errors—a phenomenon that I have termed the derring effect. For instance, my work has established the benefits of deliberate erring across diverse educational outcomes such as memory retention (Wong & Lim, 2022, JEP: General), knowledge application (Wong & Lim, 2022, Journal of Educational Psychology), and far transfer of learning across different knowledge domains (Wong, 2023, Educational Psychology Review).
My research further leverages psychological principles to uncover techniques that improve higher order learning. For instance, I have shown how teaching others enhances one's creative research question generation (Wong et al., in press, Journal of Educational Psychology). I have also developed a metacomprehension monitoring intervention—judgments of higher order learning (JOL+)—that boosts argumentative reasoning (Wong & Lim, 2019, JEP: Applied).
Wisdom | The Good Life
More broadly, I am interested in positive psychology applied in higher education. A fundamental goal of contemporary higher education is to holistically prepare learners for life beyond graduation, such as nurturing students' integrity in relation to their personal and social responsibility (Wong, Lim, & Quinlan, 2016).
How can we use our knowledge meaningfully in service of a common good, and in pursuit of the good life?
My forthcoming research integrates and extends my current work on errors to innovate evidence-based pedagogical methods aimed at cultivating wisdom as a form of timeless learning, beyond developing students' intellectual knowledge.
Ultimately, the overarching goal that drives my research is to translate my findings in real-world contexts to promote human flourishing in and beyond the classroom.
Music Cognition & Education
As a musician, I have an enduring fascination with applying psychological principles to shed light on music cognition and to support musical learning.
For instance, I have found that the use of mental imagery fosters young children's creativity when composing music (Wong & Lim, 2017).
My work has also demonstrated that interleaving is an effective technique when learning music composers' styles (Wong, Low, Kang, & Lim, 2020) and melodic musical intervals (Wong, Chen, & Lim, 2021).
These findings offer applied value in guiding music education practice, toward nurturing learners' musical skills and expertise.