Effective collaboration in the productive failure process

John Kerrigan, Keith Weber, Clark Chinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Productive failure is a learning design that encompasses problem solving prior to instruction and the learning that occurs during and after this process. In the mathematics education literature, there is a need for analyses of students’ interactions that occur as they collaborate during the productive failure process. In this paper, we contribute to this area by taking a closer look at students’ interactions that characterize an effective productive failure process. In analyzing video footage of two different groups of students working on invention tasks in a flipped mathematics classroom, we observed that the productive failure process seemed to work best in groups of students among whom the instructional design evoked students’ intellectual need and curiosity. These students also developed a set routine for solving problems whose solutions are difficult to find without prior direct instruction on the topic, which proved valuable on follow-up in-class and posttest problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100892
JournalJournal of Mathematical Behavior
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Conceptual knowledge
  • Flipped classroom
  • Invention tasks
  • Liberal arts mathematics
  • Productive failure


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