Socio-constructivists vs Neo-Instructionists at battle…aka Jan Matejko Battle of Grunwald, 1874.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT another senseless defense of the overhyped “fail fast” mantra.

Of late I’ve been often caught in heavy crossfire amid the (socio) constructivists and the (neo)instructivists. So far this turf war is mainly unfolding in online or academic arenas but I fear it may spiral out of control. Weaponry becomes more and more sophisticated and informants report on the use of evidence-based bombshells alongside the traditional repertoire of wishful thinking, dogma, anecdote and bias.   One of the most raging battles in this conflict, unguided problem solving vs heavily guided direct instruction debate and yet it seems the ideas of the 2 warring factions may not be utterly irreconcilable.

The article “Examining Productive Failure, Productive Success, Unproductive Failure, and Unproductive Success in Learning” (Kapur, 2016) offers some potential ways forward and does certainly strike a chord with ongoing pedagogical discussions in entrepreneurship education.  I’m copypasting the abstract below these lines but please save some time to read the full article here:


“Learning and performance are not always commensurable. Conditions that maximize performance in the initial learning may not maximize learning in the longer term. I exploit this incommensurability to theoretically and empirically interrogate four possibilities for design: productive success, productive failure, unproductive success, and unproductive failure. Instead of only looking at extreme comparisons between discovery learning and direct instruction, an analysis of the four design possibilities suggests a vast design space in between the two extremes that may be more productive for learning than the extremes. I show that even though direct instruction can be conceived as a productive success compared to discovery learning, theoretical and empirical analyses suggests that it may well be an unproductive success compared with examples of productive failure and productive success. Implications for theory and the design of instruction are discussed.”

Shrapnelly yours

Iván Diego


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