Effects of Failure: Alternative Explanations and Possible Implications

  • Margaret M. Clifford


Is failure1 as devastating as popular opinion and humanist psychologist imply (Glasser, 1969)? Is there conclusive evidence to support the prevalent practice of minimizing the amount of failure students experience? Are the levels of success associated with the use of programmed materials, inflated grades, and mastery learning techniques ensuring optimum student motivation and cognitive development? A review of theories and research related to the effects of failure suggests that these are not naive questions and cannot be given simplistic answers. Rather, such a review leads one to conclude that educators who teach by the maxim, “Nothing succeeds like success,” at least sometimes may be doing students more harm than good.


Task Difficulty Success Group Achievement Motivation Learn Helplessness Inescapable Shock 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret M. Clifford
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IowaUSA

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