FLIP (Failure: Learning in Progress): A resiliency-learning project for teaching students how to embrace, learn, and bounce-back, from failure

FLIP (Failure: Learning in Progress): A resiliency-learning project for teaching students how to embrace, learn, and bounce-back, from failure 

  • Professor Fiona Rawle, Department of Biology, University of Toronto Mississauga 
  • Professor Nicole Laliberte, Department of Geography, Geomatics, & Environment, University of Toronto Mississauga 
  • Professor Mairi Cowan, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga 
  • Professor Ken Derry, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga 
  • Jackie Goodman, Manager, Student Transition & Engagement, Centre for Student Engagement 

Abstract

We propose developing curricular tools to help students learn how to embrace failure, learn from failure, and bounce-back from failure so as to overcome challenges in learning. UTM’s Curriculum Mapping initiative includes several learning outcomes regarding “students taking responsibility for their own learning” and “resilient learning” which are routinely not being met across the curriculum. This is not unique to UTM; studies have shown that failure is crucial to learning, however the skills of how to fail well and bounce back from failure are not commonly embedded into course design at the post-secondary level. Through this study, we will address this gap by building an interdisciplinary approach to integrating productive failure into course designs.   

Background research for this project was threefold. In addition to the review of UTM’s Curricular Mapping Initiative, we conducted a scoping review of the pedagogical literature on productive failure that found several broad gaps. We also conducted a pilot study in BIO152 (in Fall 2018 and currently in Fall 2019) that re-framed course design to focus on the approach to learning, with “failing well” as the central instructional theme embedded with course content. Based upon the preliminary results from these projects, we identified significant gaps in the literature as well as pedagogical practice at UTM that included short-comings in regards to understandings of student experiences with failure, validated assessment designs, and interdisciplinary approaches (the majority of the existing research is STEM and business focused). The proposed research will establish teaching tools, instructional resources, and assessment packages for embedding failing-forward activities in courses across disciplines (specifically in Biology, Geography, History, and Religion).