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Article of Volume 4, Issue 1, March 2009

Productive failure in CSCL groups

Authors: Manu Kapur, Charles K. Kinzer

Abstract: This study was designed as a confirmatory study of work on productive failure (Kapur, Cognition and Instruction, 26(3), 379–424, 2008). N = 177, 11th-grade science students were randomly assigned to solve either well- or ill-structured problems in a computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environment without the provision of any external support structures or scaffolds. After group problem solving, all students individually solved well-structured problems followed by ill-structured problems. Compared to groups who solved well-structured problems, groups who solved ill-structured problems expectedly struggled with defining, analyzing, and solving the problems. However, despite failing in their collaborative problem-solving efforts, these students outperformed their counterparts from the well-structured condition on the individual near and far transfer measures subsequently, thereby confirming the productive failure hypothesis. Building on the previous study, additional analyses revealed that neither preexisting differences in prior knowledge nor the variation in group outcomes (quality of solutions produced) seemed to have had any significant effect on individual near and far transfer measures, lending support to the idea that it was the nature of the collaborative process that explained productive failure.

Keywords: Ill-structured problem solving, Well-structured problem solving, Synchronous collaboration, Problem-solving failure

Citation: Kapur, M. & Kinzer, C. K. (2009) Productive failure in CSCL groups. ijcscl 4 (1), pp. 21-46

DOI: 10.1007/s11412-008-9059-z

Preprint: Acrobat-PDF kapur_kinzer_4_1.pdf

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