Webinar : “Productive Failure in Mathematics”

Dear Maths and Stats teachers,

You are invited to join a webinar on “Productive Failure in Mathematics. Helping students gain a deeper conceptual understanding through initial exploratory problems.” Norbert Hungerbühler described Productive Failure as the current hot topic in the pedagogy of mathematics.


  • When: Monday, October 19th from 9:00 to 10:00
  • Where: Online (the link will be shared by email a few days before the webinar)
  • Registration here

Failure can be productive. Several studies have shown that students profit from reversing the traditional teaching structure of tell-and-practice, where a lecturer instructs students on a new concept before letting students solve problems. When students solve problems before being formally instructed however, they gain a deeper conceptual understanding, even if they fail to find the canonical solution. Manu Kapur gave this teaching design he developed the fitting name ‘productive failure’. Norbert Hungerbühler has been using productive failure in his linear algebra class at the ETH Zürich, with a positive effect on student outcomes. Vera Baumgartner is now investigating further how the productive failure teaching design can be applied to mathematical theories as formal and abstract as linear algebra.

In this webinar, Vera will explain how productive failure works, what it looks like, how it can help students reach a deeper conceptual understanding and present the promising first results of her doctoral project.

Pedro Caldeira will give us a short demonstration of how productive failure can be used in a statistics course through a mobile learning app.

This webinar is part of our work on the pedagogy of mathematics, as we prepare for the opening of our Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in February 2021.


Our speakers

Vera Baumgartner obtained a master’s degree in mathematics from ETH Zurich in September 2019. In her studies, she focused on algebraic geometry and number theory and wrote her master’s thesis on exponential motives. During her studies, Vera deeply enjoyed her part-time job as a teaching assistant, where she was able to help first-year students navigate the jungle of the theory of linear algebra for three years. This experience further shaped Vera’s interest in finding teaching strategies to support her students’ learning. In September 2019, Vera started her doctoral studies in learning sciences and higher education with Manu Kapur at ETH Zurich. Vera’s doctoral project aims to deepen mechanical engineering students’ understanding of linear algebra concepts using ideas from productive failure.

Pedro Caldeira—a computer scientist from EPFL—had his first foray into the Learning Sciences during his Master’s thesis in Japan: there, he implemented a new memorization system into an EdTech app. Now back in Switzerland at ETH, he is combining his knowledge of software development and academic research to create new ways of learning with technology.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me: Henrietta.carbonel@unidistance.ch

Posts created 13

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top