Summary of Productive Failure

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Productive Failure summary

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Conventional wisdom paints failure as something to avoid. However, learning scientist Manu Kapur argues that the right kind of failure is useful, even critical, to learning. Kapur’s perspectives will pique the interest of anyone who is responsible for designing rich educational experiences or who is keen to learn new pedagogical techniques.

About the Speaker

Manu Kaper is a professor of learning sciences and higher education at ETH Zurich.


How do people learn and apply newfound knowledge to solve novel problems? Learning scientist Manu Kapur believes four principles should guide thinking about learning:

  1. “Seeing versus encoding– Imagine watching a soccer game with Manchester United manager José Mourihno. Are you observing the same match? Although you both receive the same “perceptual stimuli,” Mourihno, an expert, notices aspects of the game that your untrained eye can’t discern. Experts often attempt to impart knowledge that novices don’t yet have the experience to grasp. Therefore, an expert’s primary job isn’t to teach but to prepare others to see...

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