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How to make failure productive: Fostering learning from errors through elaboration prompts


Learning and Instruction Volume 62, Number 1, ISSN 0959-4752 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Research on conceptual change, learning from errors, and ‘productive failure’ suggests that elaborating on errors during instruction is crucial for learning in settings which put problem solving before instruction. To reveal the role of elaboration and comparison of errors, we investigated the effect of prompting students to engage in such cognitive processes: Students in all conditions first worked on an identical problem-solving activity (targeting the comparison of fractions) without prior instruction about the targeted concepts and procedures. In the subsequent instruction phase, students in the different conditions received 1) only correct solutions, 2) correct and erroneous examples, or 3) additional comparison prompts. Students who were prompted to compare erroneous solution attempts to correct solutions significantly outperformed their peers at posttest. Elaborating on errors seemed to mediate this effect. In accordance with the theoretical assumptions, the difference between conditions was only significant for students whose initial solution resembled the erroneous examples.


Loibl, K. & Leuders, T. (2019). How to make failure productive: Fostering learning from errors through elaboration prompts. Learning and Instruction, 62(1), 1-10. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved February 29, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Learning and Instruction on March 15, 2019. Learning and Instruction is a publication of Elsevier.

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