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What is Errorless Learning in Special Education?

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errorless learning in special education

What is errorless learning?

Errorless learning is an instructional strategy that allows children to practice skills with confidence. It ensures that students are always responding correctly, building their confidence and increasing their knowledge at the same time. When errorless choice are provided on worksheets or hands-on tasks reduce the need to prompt a student verbally, and therefore reduces the chance of a student relying on your prompts!

Errorless Learning is an Antecedent Intervention

errorless learning has no wrong answer

Errorless learning is an antecedent intervention from Applied Behavior Analysis. An antecedent intervention is something you do prior to the student completing the task or exhibiting the behavior you are expecting. This method of teaching skills minimizes opportunities for errors. It also increases the frequency at which the child encounters reinforcement. Minimizing errors also reduces the likelihood that the child engages in challenging behavior.

Instructors use prompts to support the learner in responding correctly. The instructor then systematically fades the prompts to promote independent responding.

When an instructor first introduces a new skill acquisition target, they utilize most to least prompting. If they decide to errorlessly teach the child to clap his hands when they says “clap your hands,” they begin by immediately using a full physical prompt. This allows the student to successfully clap their hands because of that full physical prompt.

What are the benefits?

student completing an errorless file folder activity

Students are often easily frustrated when learning a new skill. They might stuggle when practicing an old one that you just haven’t mastered yet. Errorless learning takes away that frustration. It also can build the student’s confidence. The repetition in errorless learning tasks is proven to increase student success even when the errorless prompt is faded later on.

How do you fade the prompts?

Just like with any skill, we want to fade support over time. When we fade prompts we increase student independence. We are always aiming for 100% independence with any skill! The errorless prompts should be removed systematically until a student CAN respond correctly on their own.

Why is errorless learning good?

errorless digital activity
Students must drag and drop all the triangles to an area.

Errorless learning not only reduces frustration but can also build motivation. We all are motivated when we do well at something. Increasing this motivation and enjoyment of a task can really be beneficial to students learning and reduce behaviors.

Which students benefit from this strategy?

Almost any student can benefit from using this strategy. When I think of students I have worked with in the past they were:

  • Students who become frustrated with new tasks easily
  • Ones who are not grasping the information over a longer period of time
  • Students who require high levels of prompting to be successful would all benefit from this instructional strategy
errorless real photo file folders
Students place the images onto the boards.

Learning basic skills is a great place to start with errorless learning! There are many basic skills that we want our students to learn. When working on those we can provide students with the best opportunity for success. Students gain exposure to materials and content they need for the rest of their lives.

I have created many materials with this strategy in mind! Let’s take a look at a few favorites that I like to use in my classroom.

Pictured above are just some of the many errorless resources I have available in my SHOP! Check out the others and see what skills (either in printable or digital forms) could work best for the students in your classroom!

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