Yasmin Kafai

Designing for Failure to Support Successful Learning

Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Yasmin Kafai
27/10 2021
12:15-13:15, DIAS Auditorium
Guest Lecture

In school and life, we cherish success and fear failure. But not every learning experience is a success right away. In fact, failing at projects and making mistakes and then learning from them is the norm rather than the exception. My talk today is about finding a different, more productive stance that turns failure into success for learning. Drawing on a decade of research in computer science education working with high school teachers and hundreds of students in designing electronic textiles (clothing that connects sensors and actuators via sewing circuits with conductive thread), I present “Debugging by Design” as an approach in which students collect and celebrate their mistakes to learn from each other by designing failure projects for others to fix.

About Yasmin Kafai

Yasmin B. Kafai is a learning scientist and designer of online tools and communities to promote coding, crafting, and creativity across grades K–16. Her work empowers students to use computer programming to design games, sew electronic textiles, and grow applications in biology with the goal of supporting creative expression, building social connections, and broadening participation in computing. She helped develop with MIT colleagues the popular programming tool Scratch—known as the YouTube of interactive media—where millions of kids create and share their programs. With her pioneering research on children’s learning when programming digital games, she was an early contributor to the field of serious gaming. Currently, she is developing a high school curriculum with electronic textiles that introduces students to computer science. She is also creating new fabrication tools and activities that bring biomaking into classrooms. She has written and edited books for MIT Press in addition to several national policy reports. Her award-winning work has received generous funding from the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.


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Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this lecture may be held online and/or with limited participation.