Article Index

Example of a pedagogical scenario

This section presents a scenario from the research conducted by Giulia Ortoleva and Mireille Bétrancourt12, researchers of the lab TECFA – Technologie pour la Formation et l’Apprentissage, of the faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of University of Geneva.

Graphic summarising the three sessions of the scenario

The scenario took place in a school for health and social care assistants (ASSC). It was therefore adapted to the educational challenges encountered by teachers and learners involved in alternate school and workplace learning.

The whole activity was conducted over a six week period with an hour and a half session every two weeks. The activity was conducted on a Wiki created for this purpose.

I Session - Writing and peer-feedback

Phase 1: Students are asked to recount one experience encountered in practice related to a specific professional competence. Participants have to write individually on their personal page on the wiki site about this critical situation. In accordance with the critical-incidents technique, students are provided with instructions on how to describe this situation. Three guiding questions are proposed to the students: (1) What happened? (2) How did you react? (3) What were the consequences of this situation?

Phase 2: Every student is asked to comment on two peers’ written productions. In order to avoid the potential difficulties in this phase, precise instructions and prompts are provided, guiding learners in the process of producing constructive criticism, as well as accepting and integrating the suggestions formulated by others. The instructions provided are the following: (1) Formulate questions; (2) Provide comments and suggestions; (3) Report experiences or else reflect on how they would react in a similar situation.

Phase 3: To conclude this session, students are asked to go back to their own page. They are instructed to: (1) Reply to the questions formulated by their colleagues; (2) Consider the comments and suggestions proposed by others and explain their perspective on them; (3) Consider how they think they would react to a similar situation, if re-encountered.

Note: in order to distinguish the text used in the different phases of the activity, students use different colours.

copie ecran

Screenshot of a student’s page after the first session, including the critical incident (text in black), the two peers’ comments (blue and red) and the conclusion (green).

II Session - Group discussion

An oral discussion involving all participants is led by the teacher. The discussion is organised around the students’ themes and aims at finding possible solutions to the critical situations reported by them.

III Session - Final text elaboration

Students are provided with external resources (articles, book sections, video excerpts) presenting interesting insights into the topics which have emerged from their discussions. After reading and watching the material, students reconsider the topic discussed and are encouraged to draw new conclusions about how similar situations could be faced if encountered in the future.

This type of pedagogical instruction is highly flexible and similar scenarios could be implemented in different settings and with learners of all age groups.

Recommendations for practice

• It is important for learners to truly engage in the scenario, as both the individually written productions and the interactions among them depends on how they participate in the activity, writing interesting text, and providing each other with interesting suggestions and ideas.
• Finding the right ways to motivate learners in engaging in such an activity is, therefore, particularly important and will depend on the subject studied and on the type of activities and triggers provided to the learners.

As far as the peer-collaboration is concerned, we identified a series of aspects that would play a role in the effectiveness of this type of activity:
• effective interactions evolved from situations in which students, in the peer-feedback phase, provided concrete suggestions or reported personal experiences in similar situations.
• generic comments, and in particular, questions, were an excellent way of getting into the activity in a progressive manner.
• when faced with concrete new solutions to an issue students were able to come up with new alternatives to their behaviour and complete interactions proved more productive.
• Our experiences confirmed the relevance of the five recommendations for the design of writing activities13.

We consider that all the above mentioned observations should be taken into account when designing a scenario based on computer-supported writing and peer-collaboration activities.

References : 

12 Ortoleva, G. and Bétrancourt, M. (2014). Collaborative writing and discussion in vocational education: Effects on learning and self-efficacy beliefs. Journal of Writing Research, 7(1), 95-122

13 Tynjälä, P., Mason, L., and Lonka, K. (2001). Writing as a learning tool : Integrating theory and practice. Studies in writing, vol. 7. Dordrecht, The Netherlands. Kluwer Academic Publisher.