Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 63, Issue 6, pp 975–994 | Cite as

Failing to learn: towards a unified design approach for failure-based learning

  • Andrew A. TawfikEmail author
  • Hui Rong
  • Ikseon Choi
Development Article


To date, many instructional systems are designed to support learners as they progress through a problem-solving task. Often these systems are designed in accordance with instructional design models that progress the learner efficiently through the problem-solving process. However, theories from various fields have discussed failure as a strategic way to engender learning. Although researchers suggest that failure may be an element of problem-solving, no models have discussed how to employ failure strategically within instructional design. Given this gap, we first present failure-based research from various theoretical frameworks. Based on the research, we proffer failure-based principles for learning systems design. Implications and future research are also discussed.


Failure Problem-solving Unified theory Instructional design Case-based reasoning Productive failure 


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northern Illinois UniversityDekalbUSA
  2. 2.The University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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