University of Oulu

Sonja Lutovac & Raimo Kaasila (2022) Towards conceptualising failure in mathematics as an autobiographical experience, European Journal of Teacher Education, 45:5, 689-706, DOI: 10.1080/02619768.2021.1892070

Towards conceptualising failure in mathematics as an autobiographical experience

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Author: Lutovac, Sonja1; Kaasila, Raimo1
Organizations: 1Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-23


Studies have shown that failure experiences play a role in pre-service teachers’ development. Given that autobiographical experiences are a foundation of learning and that failure is a wide-spread experience, particularly in mathematics, we need further insight into what kind of experience failure actually is. This paper draws on 59 pre-service teachers’ written experiences of failure in order to map them out and provide insight into what counts as failure from the perspective of the future teachers of mathematics, that is, pre-service mathematics and pre-service elementary school teachers. The findings, alongside the earlier research on negative experiences, form a basis for conceptualising failure in mathematics as an autobiographical experience and distinguishing it from a negative experience. A theoretical insight into the nature of failure is gained; the failure experiences seem to be less relational than anticipated. The paper also discusses the relevance of failure experiences for teacher education.

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Series: European journal of teacher education
ISSN: 0261-9768
ISSN-E: 1469-5928
ISSN-L: 0261-9768
Volume: 45
Issue: 5
Pages: 689 - 706
DOI: 10.1080/02619768.2021.1892070
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland [Project ID 307672].
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 307672
Detailed Information: 307672 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.