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Thursday, June 23 • 13:45 - 14:45
PK07.13d - Constructing and Facilitating Manageable Error and Failure

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Students entering university today have minimal positive experience with failure, associating it with a lack of ability, and with their personal self-worth (Siering, 2012). In addition to having this unhelpful relationship with failure, many of the students we teach are also strategic learners, characterized by alertness to assessment and intention to achieve the highest possible grades (Entwistle et al., 2000). They display a need to be correct that overrides the opportunity for exploring ideas, trouble shooting, problem-solving and trial and error. This aversion to failing to be completely correct on their first attempt means they not only avoid the benefits of proximal learning, they also deny themselves the benefits of cognitive play. Our task has been to find ways to engage students in manageable error and failure and encourage these behaviours, with their associated opportunities for learning. We will demonstrate how using activities like designing a spectacular failure, using the active voice and having students describe how they used feedback from a first draft in revision and refinement can provide students with an environment for ‘safe’ failures that can still lead to progressive improvement and a successful outcome. The critical distance that these assignments allow assists students in recognizing and managing error and failure, while giving them time to process the prospective benefits of iterative learning. We will present and describe activities that build in error and failure, thus providing students with an environment for safe failures. We hope that participants at our session will gain the following: helpful theoretical and conceptual frameworks that inform our work and analysis (Orlando, 2011; Walker et al., 2006), components of each of our learning exercises, and their potential application to other contexts.

Entwistle, N., Tait, H. & McCune, V. (2000). Patterns of response to an approaches to studying inventory across contrasting groups and contexts. European Journal of Psychology of Education, XV(1), 33-48.

Orlando, J.(2011). Failure is an option: helping students learn from mistakes. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/failure-is-an-option-helping-students-learn-from-mistakes/.

Siering, G. (2012). Why risk and failure are important in learning. Retrieved from http://citl.indiana.edu/news/dir-feb2012.php.

Walker, C., Gleaves, A., & Grey, J. (2006). Can students within higher education learn to be resilient and, educationally speaking, does it matter? Educational Studies, 32(3), 251-264.


Maureen Connolly

Dr. Maureen Connolly is a Professor of Physical Education and Kinesiology in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Brock University. Maureen’s teaching and research interests include curriculum, stressed embodiment, dance & movement education, and Freirian approaches to teaching... Read More →

Gail Frost

Dr. Gail Frost is an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Brock University. She teaches courses in functional anatomy, injury prevention and care, and therapeutic exercise, and is committed to finding effective ways to help students learn, and prepare for real... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 13:45 - 14:45 EDT
UCC 315 (Council Chambers)