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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Designing for Productive Persistence after Failure

  • Author(s): Tran, Cathy
  • Advisor(s): Eccles, Jacquelynne S
  • Conley, AnneMarie M
  • et al.

This dissertation provides insight on designing learning environments that promote productive persistence. Two projects bridged the fields of educational psychology, cognition, affective science, and game design to examine what influences persistence after failure.

The first project used self-reports, interviews, and observations to explore ways the design of a game in a science museum interacted with and influenced students’ motivation during a high school field trip. Analyses illustrated that five design features modified student motivation in shaping behavior, supporting the pursuit of some goals while hindering the pursuit of others. Case studies that traced the information-seeking patterns of four students, who endorsed different motivational profiles, provided an understanding of the reasons for their adoption, maintenance, and change of achievement goals throughout the visit.

The second project provided opportunities for productive confusion by introducing a design intervention that asked students to rate their confidence while solving mathematics problems during a computer task for fourth- and fifth-grade students. The ratings occurred after students selected answers to multiple-choice questions. Cognitive conflict emerged during instances in which students were not well calibrated; that is, they were highly confident of their answer but incorrect (i.e., high confidence errors) or not confident but correct (i.e., low confidence corrects). Findings underscore that cognitive conflict can elicit confusion and influence students to invest more effort towards better understanding mathematics problems but that their degree of effort can diminish when the feedback does not successfully resolve their confusion.

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