Learning and performance are not always commensurable. Conditions that maximize performance in the initial learning may not maximize learning in the longer term. I exploit this incommensurability to theoretically and empirically interrogate four possibilities for design: productive success, productive failure, unproductive success, and unproductive failure. Instead of only looking at extreme comparisons between discovery learning and direct instruction, an analysis of the four design possibilities suggests a vast design space in between the two extremes that may be more productive for learning than the extremes. I show that even though direct instruction can be conceived as a productive success compared to discovery learning, theoretical and empirical analyses suggests that it may well be an unproductive success compared with examples of productive failure and productive success. Implications for theory and the design of instruction are discussed. Copyright © 2016 Division 15, American Psychological Association.