Effectiveness of error management training: a meta-analysis

J Appl Psychol. 2008 Jan;93(1):59-69. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.93.1.59.


Error management training (EMT) is a training method that involves active exploration as well as explicit encouragement for learners to make errors during training and to learn from them. Past evaluation studies, which compared skill-based training outcomes of EMT with those of proceduralized erroravoidant training or of exploratory training without error encouragement, have yielded considerable variation in effect sizes. The present meta-analysis compiles the results of the existing studies and seeks to explain this variation. Although the mean effect of EMT across all 24 identified studies (N = 2,183) was positive and significant (Cohen's d = 0.44), there were several moderators. Moderator analyses showed effect sizes to be larger (a) for posttraining transfer (d = 0.56) than for within-training performance and (b) for performance tasks that were structurally distinct (adaptive transfer; d = 0.80) than for tasks that were similar to training (analogical transfer). In addition, both active exploration and error encouragement were identified as effective elements in EMT. Results suggest that EMT may be better suited than error-avoidant training methods for promotion of transfer to novel tasks.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Employee Performance Appraisal*
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Learning
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Transfer, Psychology