Problem Solving: Kapur’s Work on Productive Failure

Social constructivism generally argues for series of scaffolded processes as the route to meaningful learning. This study by Manu Kapur suggests that when students first tackle ill-structured, un-scaffolded problems and subsequently attack well structured problems the contrast enables them to transfer problem-solving skills which, without the contrast, might have gone unutilized.
The implication seems to be that designing to have students flounder with ill-defined, unscaffolded problems enables them to perform much better on subsequent direct instruction.

Productive Failure: A Hidden Efficacy of Seemingly Unproductive Production

Manu Kapur

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