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Title: Productive Failure
Authors: Kapur, Manu
Issue Date: Jun-2006
Publisher: International Society of the Learning Sciences
Citation: Kapur, M. (2006). Productive Failure. In Barab, S. A., Hay, K. E., & Hickey, D. T. (Eds.), The International Conference of the Learning Sciences: Indiana University 2006. Proceedings of ICLS 2006, Volume 1 (pp. 307-313). Bloomington, Indiana, USA: International Society of the Learning Sciences.
Abstract: Contrary to the fairly established notion in the learning sciences that un-scaffolded processes rarely lead to meaningful learning, this study reports a hidden efficacy of such processes and a method for extracting it. Compared to scaffolded, well-structured problem-solving groups, un-scaffolded, ill-structured problem-solving groups struggled with defining and solving the problems. Their discussions were chaotic and divergent, resulting in poor group performance. However, despite failing in their problem-solving efforts, these participants outperformed their counterparts in the well-structured condition on transfer measures, suggesting a latent productivity in the failure. The study's contrasting-case design provided participants in the un-scaffolded condition with an opportunity to contrast the ill-structured problems that they had solved in groups with the well-structured problems they solved individually afterwards. This contrast facilitated a spontaneous transfer, helping them perform significantly better on the individual ill-structured problem-solving tasks subsequently. Implications of productive failure for the development of adaptive expertise are discussed.
Appears in Collections:ICLS 2006

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