At the nexus of learning and innovation
January 11, 11:00 am

Seminar Room 612, Education Building, A35, University of Sydney

Internationally renowned learning scientist Professor Manu Kapur is giving us a surprise visit from ETH in Zürich. His talk will give an overview of the field of the learning sciences and elaborate on specific ideas using his pedagogical theory of Productive Failure. 

Manu Kapur


Seminar Room 612, Education Building, A35, University of Sydney

The Learning Sciences: Key Principles & their Implications for Teaching and Learning

Abstract: The past three decades have seen a tremendous interest in and growth of the learning sciences. What are the learning sciences? What are some of the key principles of learning that have emerged out of the learning sciences? I will start by discussing key debates in the field from which significant shifts about how we think about learning have emerged. I will then situate these key shifts in the design of a learning intervention I call Productive Failure, and highlight key findings. I will end by deriving implications for the design of learning and teaching.


Manu is currently a Professor and Chair of Learning Sciences and Higher Education at ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Prior to joining ETH Zürich, he was a Professor of Psychological Studies at The Education University of Hong Kong (EduHK). Manu also worked as the Head of the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Academic Group (CTL AG) as well as the Head of Learning Sciences Lab (LSL) at the National Institute of Education (NIE) of Singapore.

An engineer by bachelors training, Manu was a pre-university mathematics teacher for five years before receiving his doctorate in instructional technology and media from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, where he also completed a Master of Science in Applied Statistics.He also has a Master of Education from the NIE.

Early in his academic career, Manu directed a $50m interactive and digital media R&D program at the Ministry of Education of Singapore to jumpstart research on interactive and digital media in education in Singapore.

Manu conceptualized the notion of productive failure and has used it to explore the hidden efficacies in the seemingly failed efforts of small groups solving complex problems collaboratively in an online environment. Manu has done extensive work in real-field ecologies of mathematics classrooms to extend his work on productive failure across a range of schools in Singapore.

Manu’s research has attracted high profile media interest (e.g., TIME, The Australian, The Straits Times, The Times of India, The CONVERSATION, etc.) and approximately US$3m in funding in Singapore and internationally.  He has been invited to present major keynote addresses around the world, and his work has been published in the top journals in the field.