© 2012

Human Fallibility

The Ambiguity of Errors for Work and Learning

  • Johannes Bauer
  • Christian Harteis

Part of the Professional and Practice-based Learning book series (PPBL, volume 6)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Errors, Their Learning Potential, and the Processes of Learning from Errors

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 15-15
    2. Stephen Billett
      Pages 17-32
    3. Martin Gartmeier, Elke M. Schüttelkopf
      Pages 33-51
    4. Fritz K. Oser, Catherine Näpflin, Christine Hofer, Philipp Aerni
      Pages 53-70
    5. Hans Gruber, Michael Mohe
      Pages 71-87
  3. Methodological Strategies

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 89-89
    2. Daniel Putz, Jan Schilling, Annette Kluge
      Pages 107-123
  4. Learning from Errors in the Professions

  5. Enabling Learning from Errors

  6. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 253-253

About this book


A curious ambiguity surrounds errors in professional working contexts: they must be avoided in case they lead to adverse (and potentially disastrous) results, yet they also hold the key to improving our knowledge and procedures. In a further irony, it seems that a prerequisite for circumventing errors is our remaining open to their potential occurrence and learning from them when they do happen. This volume, the first to integrate interdisciplinary perspectives on learning from errors at work, presents theoretical concepts and empirical evidence in an attempt to establish under what conditions professionals deal with errors at work productively—in other words, learn the lessons they contain. By drawing upon and combining cognitive and action-oriented approaches to human error with theories of adult, professional, and workplace learning this book provides valuable insights which can be applied by workers and professionals. It includes systematic theoretical frameworks for explaining learning from errors in daily working life, methodologies and research instruments that facilitate the measurement of that learning, and empirical studies that investigate relevant determinants of learning from errors in different professions. Written by an international group of distinguished researchers from various disciplines, the chapters paint a comprehensive picture of the current state of the art in research on human fallibility and (learning from) errors at work.


error avoidance error management error orientation error prevention fallibility human fallibility individual learning learning from errors negative knowledge organisational learning professional learning safety at work team learning workplace learning

Editors and affiliations

  • Johannes Bauer
    • 1
  • Christian Harteis
    • 2
  1. 1.TUM School of EducationTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  2. 2.Fakultät für KulturwissenschaftenUniversität PaderbornPaderbornGermany

Bibliographic information


From the book reviews:

“‘Human Fallibility’ offers an up-to-date compilation of varying perspectives, methods, and results of the relations between errors, work, and learning in several contexts. … the editors deliver an up-to-date overview of a wide range of issues and methods related to learning from errors. … The book also reveals several ways of furthering the development of the field. … ‘Human Fallibility’ offers more than just a starting point.” (Andreas Rausch, Vacations and Learning, Vol. 7, 2014)