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    Rights statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Emotion, Space and Society. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Emotion, Space and Society, 37, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.emospa.2020.100719

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The ‘present-tense’ experience of failure in the university: reflections from an action research project

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Article number100719
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Emotion, Space and Society
Number of pages12
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date1/09/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article reflects on insights from an action research project where we worked with students whose university experience was inhibited by the fear of failure. In contrast to the popular concept of ‘learning from failure’, which involves intellectualizing the experience and distancing ourselves from it, our findings demonstrate the importance of a ‘present tense’ focus on emotions and affects in order to understand the experience of failure for students. Doing so brings us face-to-face with the often painful experience of failure in the present moment which, we argue, is an important and valid part of the university experience. We conclude by reflecting on the kinds of spaces and skills that may be needed to work with this new understanding of failure and show that developing these is a crucial part of resisting neoliberalism and creating a more ‘care-full’ (Mountz et al., 2015) academy.