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Games, productive failure and independent learning

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Games, productive failure and independent learning

Started by Sandra Law May 9, 2012 - 12:21pm

When I set about designing an alternate reality game I did not initially think about the connection between ill-structured problem solving and productive failure. However, looking back I see that encouraging learners to fail productively (incorporate what they learn from their failures or missteps in their course work, scientific and/or professional practice) was a central part of improving their scientific literacy skills as well as giving them a lesson in the importance of persistence. The game that I designed was intended to support distributed cognition amongst a team of players who each assumed the role of a professional scientist in a particular subject area. I am really interested in the concept of productive failure because we want our students to be able to learn from their mistakes, move on, and explore new opportunities based on that learning. Ill-structured problems, while not intended to cause students to fail, can be challenging. We want our students to be independent thinkers, capable of'thinking on their feet', coming up with original answers to problems however in traditional courses we tend to provide them with 'no autonomy, passive learning opportunities, and no room to fail'. Kio Stark does not want to change school but she does want to change the culture of learning - informal learning outside of the classroom. Although the short talk by Kio Stark called the "Myth of Independent Learning" deals with the topic of independent learning and what that term means to her (not autodidacy, but a community of learners) it touches on the topic of productive failure.

Article on productive failure and learning in sciences

Kapur, M. & Bielaczyc, K. (2011). Designing for Productive Failure. Journal of Learning Sciences, 21(1), 45-83.