Looking for a simple way to bring equity-attuned conversations about failure into your classroom? These interventions are designed to facilitate open introductory discussion about struggle, failure, and recovery (and the ways they are framed in and beyond higher education). They are structured around five decks of PowerPoint slides that can be individually tailored to your particular discipline/course and incorporated into class discussion.
This bank of examples is provided as a resource for instructors, students, or anyone interested in learning about the failures, missteps, obstacles and accidents that have contributed to many notable inventions, innovations, and discoveries.
Welcome to Fish Outta Water, your unofficial university survival guide! In this podcast, hosts and UTM students, Harleen and Loridee talk all about the transition into university, overcoming failure, and what it’s like to be thrown into the swirling rapids of undergrad without a life jacket. Learn how to survive these treacherous waters through a mixture of fun stats and stories, alongside never before heard interviews with your favourite professors.
Prompts to help guide students through the reflective process.
These Learning through Failure Journals can be done as in-class reflective activities at multiple points during term.
Reflecting on failure is a critically important component of the learning process. However, relatively little scholarship to date has examined instructor perspectives of failure, including how failure informs their approaches to teaching and learning. This case study explores instructor perspectives on failure using data collected from a series of semi-structured interviews conducted across disciplinary departments at the University of Toronto Mississauga. When contemplating how and/ or whether to incorporate failure pedagogy, instructors considered how interlocking systems of power shaped both their own and their students’ positionalities and willingness to engage with failure. Three interlocking themes emerged, with instructors describing (1) failure as privilege, (2) failure as simultaneously a valuable pedagogical tool and an institutional risk, and (3) a disconnect between instructor desires to facilitate generative failure and the limitations of institutional policy in supporting such endeavors. The study finally explored how instructors, in light of existing power structures, suggested navigating institutional politics, incorporating new pedagogical techniques, and constructing support systems that could aid students in embracing, learning from, and bouncing back from failure.
Learning from failure is a core component to education, however it is not often deliberately taught in university courses. In addition, while the rhetoric around taking risks, embracing failure, and bouncing back is pervasive in higher education, the corresponding structural supports are lacking. The purpose of the current work is to explore ways we can visualize and illustrate the power and privilege involved with embracing and learning from failure in the context of higher education. We offer three approaches to visualizing the same set of research data exploring student and instructor experiences of failure. The first figure is structured using a Venn diagram, the second uses a mobius strip, and the third draws on both puzzle imagery and the structure of a kernmantle rope to offer a more complex rendition of power and privilege in higher education. These illustrations are intended to serve as introductory guides to this topic. This work emphasizes that power is diffuse and mutable, and we underscore the critical importance of recognizing that each person will experience power and privilege differently in different circumstances. This exploration of illustrative concepts is a place to start theorizing about how students and instructors experience, resist, or wield power as they navigate academic institutions and engage with failure. We note that each instance of struggle, failure, or recovery exhibits specific configurations of power as multiple vectors contribute more or less strongly to the situation. The exact topography of power will change as different people, areas of the institution, or social policies and values enter the equation.
Compiled from a series of semi-structured interviews conducted in 2020 with tenured, pre-tenure, contingent faculty and postdoctoral fellows across the University of Toronto Mississauga, this “wish list” captures a snapshot of pedagogical techniques and changes desired by these instructors to facilitate equitable teaching, research, and policy around failure in higher education.
This “Wishlist” has been compiled from responses to a student survey distributed electronically at the University of Toronto Mississauga in Spring 2021. The survey, which solicited responses from students across disciplines and academic years, was composed of quantitative questions posed on a seven-point Likert scale, as well as qualitative open-response questions. Over 300 respondents from a wide range of disciplines engaged with the survey.
The power behind the screen: Educating competent technology users in the age of digitized inequality
Digital technologies are deeply embedded in social, economic, and political hegemonies both past and present. Understanding the power dynamics, inequalities, and oppressions at work in and through digital technologies stands as a precondition to educating fully literate, fully competent digital citizens and technology users. This article is situated within an area of overlap between digital literacy and digital competence; that is, it is situated at the overlap of functional and cognitive skills, pedagogy and policymaking. We argue that it is crucial to introduce students to the language and theoretical frameworks examining what power is and how it functions in order to empower students to critically engage with the tangled ethics and power structures attendant with digital technologies and their data.