Productive failure

Productive failure is a method of teaching that gives students complex problems to solve and attempt to form their own solutions before receiving direct instruction. The aim is for students, working together, to use their prior knowledge to consider possible solutions, then evaluate and explain the best answer. By struggling and sometimes failing to find a solution, the students gain a deeper understanding of the structure of the problem and its elements. After this process, their teacher explains the essential concepts and methods of the solution, helping students to consolidate their knowledge by comparing good and bad answers. Productive failure has been investigated in 26 Singapore schools, and has been replicated by studies in the USA, Canada, Germany, and Australia. The pedagogy requires students to embrace challenge and uncertainty. They may feel unconfident at first, but this experience can help them become more creative and resilient. In order to implement learning with productive failure, teachers will need a deep understanding of the topic and may need to make fundamental changes to how they teach.

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