Longitudinal Research on Collaborative Approaches to Failure in Youth Computer Science Workshops
David DeLiema

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Minnesota

Primary Discipline

Developmental Psychology
Innumerable events distributed across students, materials, curricula, teachers, and institutions are jointly responsible for failures that arise in the learning process. In addition to weaving a casual account of failure out of this complex set of factors, students and teachers have to consider how to strategically iterate through obstacles, balance independence with collaboration, calibrate confidence given the tractability of a problem, and prepare for both recurring and novel obstacles. How can our pedagogy around students� encounters with failure keep pace with this range of causes and possible goals? In this project, I explicitly frame and study moments of failure as points of departure that can move in multiple directions. Focused on computer programming�a discipline in which debugging broken code is essential, extremely common, often challenging, and shaped by numerous tools�this design-research study addresses how debugging teaching and learning take place in moment-to-moment interactions between talk, action, gesture, and materials in case studies that stretch over several years. This work takes place in a learning community designed to nuance, distribute, and valorize the process of storytelling about failure to break down oversimplified accounts. The analysis aims to document how pedagogy foregrounds, backgrounds, and blends multiple valuable facets of failure: fixing bugs, avoiding past bugs, handling new bugs, engaging with authority, and calibrating confidence.
About David DeLiema
David DeLiema is a learning scientist and research-practice partner whose scholarship focuses on understanding, critically examining, and re-imagining how instructors and students notice, justify, and respond to moments of failure during learning. Dr. DeLiema is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota?s College of Education and Human Development, where he teaches courses on failure and learning, video-based educational research, embodied cognition, and play-based pedagogy. With studies addressing the multimodal features of moment-to-moment interaction during collaborative learning, Dr. DeLiema has investigated students? experiences debugging computer code, students? immersion into the first-person viewpoint of science/engineering concepts, and mathematics tutoring sessions. He holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. As a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley?s Graduate School of Education, Dr. DeLiema led the National Science Foundation-funded Debugging Failure research project. Through his research, he aims to better understand how students and teachers navigate the sustained presence of obstacles during learning, with broader implications for how to build effective and equitable approaches to learning through failure.

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