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Failure to follow instructions, basic errors in computation and data extraction, or even a wrong label may eventuate in a grade that does not reflect your child’s true understanding of concepts. How often have you, a parent, done through your child’s test, only to experience the familiar lamentation of, “Oh, if it weren’t for carelessness?” Despite bringing up the issue again and again, its prevalence belies the promised efficacy of proposed solutions from educators, often leaving you perplexed and exasperated. We believe carelessness is due quality attention, and that by clearly defining the issue, we are best positioned to manage it.

Cause and Effect
There are two root causes for the malady of carelessness, students’ attitude and mentality. These are some familiar instances of both, with their associated results. Refer to Table 1 and 2.

careless: wrong attitude

Students with sound grasp of concepts work relatively quickly and believe they could obtain the correct answer. These students find it unnecessary to review their work, or perhaps find it too tedious to go through the entire paper again. As a result, they tend to make more careless mistakes than a slower, less confident child. Another group of students who do not take the time to think metacognitively tend to avoid situations in their area of weakness. Instead of spending time to review those “harder” questions after they were done, they seem to conspire within themselves to deliberately pay less attention in checking those answers, which in fact require more attention as they are more prone to carelessness.

careless: mentality

For some reason, when the first person turns in his test script, the majority of the other students start to speed up. This haste produces more careless mistakes and reduces the quality of work. Moreover, this concept of “faster being smarter” has induced unnecessary anxiety on the slower ones, which causes them to lose concentration for the test, and thus, a surge in careless mistakes.

 methods, processes, review, relevance, tracking

This sampling of some causes of carelessness and the associated types of lapses demonstrate how we can classify and prepare to engage these issues; by aligning them with a framework such as this. Refer to Figure A. Complacency should never be an excuse, and a proper process of checking can mitigate the problem of carelessness to a large degree. Anxiety can be managed with good pacing; even systematic way of working and reviewing can help to build confidence and allay nervousness. Over time, a good personal time management can overwrite the wrong mindset of being affected by others’ pace. Carelessness is not to be taken lightly; with proper processes and consistency, it is something that can surely be handled to a good degree.

Reference
Van Kraayenoord, C.E. & Paris, S. (1997) Australian Students Self-Appraisal of Their Work Samples and Academic Progress. In :The Elementary School Journal” 97 (5), 532-537