Embracing Failure: The Missteps to Success

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Kyle Maclauchlan, Miyagi Gakuin University

Reference Data:

Maclauchlan, K. (2016). Embracing failure: The missteps to success. In P. Clements, A. Krause, & H. Brown (Eds.), Focus on the learner. Tokyo: JALT.

Often teachers attempt to motivate students by creating simple and attainable goals. By doing so, teachers hope to remove fear of failure, a negative motivator that impedes student participation and active learning in the classroom environment. By viewing fear of failure as separate fear and failure components, it becomes clear that it is the fear of the repercussions of failure, not the act of failure itself, that acts as the demotivator. It then becomes conceivable that fear can be addressed by actually increasing failure opportunities. The games described in this paper seek to achieve exactly this. This article provides explanations of the games as well as a rationale for their effectiveness. The games discussed include Reverse Self-Introduction—a standard self-introduction turned into a game, Undoodles—a guessing game incorporating partial images, and Hexagon—a game show-type game that keeps students guessing.


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