GIODN Official Blog
Scenario-Based Learning with Christy Tucker
- June 4, 2020
- Posted by: Dr. Cindy Banyai
- Category: Thoughts
Have you ever thought adding scenarios might improve your courses, but you weren’t sure where to start? During this GIODN Virtual Meeting, Christy Tucker introduces the why and how of scenario-based learning to help you get started.
If you are trying to change behavior in training, practicing decision making skills is more effective than reciting something abstract. This is where scenarios come in. A scenario does not have to be complex or involve any complicated technology, there are ways to use scenarios that are straight forward.
Why scenarios? Scenarios give people the opportunity to practice real life decisions and serves as a safe place to fail and make mistakes without costly or dangerous repercussions. Scenarios help with memory and retention as well. As humans, we remember failures, and there is also evidence that our brains are wired for stories. The human mind remembers stories better than abstract content. Scenarios also provide an emotional impact, which in turn makes training more interesting and intriguing.
Scenarios accelerate expertise. In a study of retention between scenario based learning and abstract learning, participants became experts faster with scenarios than those who learned without them. “Learners are motivated when they can see the relevance of what they are learning.” – M. David Merrill.
There are a range of scenario options that move from passive to active. The most passive scenario option is Provided Example. This method entails storytelling and according to Christy Tucker, almost all good classroom trainers use these. Next comes Mini Scenarios. These types of scenarios are short and most of the time one question. If an organization is slowly trying to experiment with scenarios, Mini Scenarios are a good way to get people on board rather than jumping into fully complex scenarios right away.
Two Narrators with Decisions starts to tiptoe toward the more active side of scenarios. In this type of scenario, two people talk back and forth with a pause at certain points to respond to questions. Case studies with responses are more linear scenarios that include large chunks of reading or listening with some decision points in context in order to work through the study.
A more non-linear type of scenario is a Branching Scenario. This type of scenario is more complex and active and involves decision making that leads to different outcomes based on decision choice. People usually link this type scenario with scenario-based learning as a whole.
Lastly, the most active of them all is Role play/Simulation. Simulations are more often used for medical personnel, doctors and machinery practice. This type of practice is important because mistakes that happen in real life situations are too costly or unsafe. This type of scenario is the most expensive form and requires the most programming.
Scenario-Based Learning works best when the outcome is problem solving or skill development. It is not as beneficial for procedural or checklist training. Before choosing this method of learning, it is important to ask: Is it difficult or unsafe to provide real world experience or is failure too costly not to practice? Do you have the time and resources to design and test for simulation, branching, etc.? Will the content and skills remain relevant long enough to justify the development of scenario-based learning?
Scenario-Based Learning involves working with Subject Matter Experts (SME’s). SME’s provide the information about the subject in order to create an accurate and appropriate scenario for training. It can be difficult to get the information you need from SME’s to create scenarios. Christy Tucker suggests asking certain questions in order to get the correct information needed. These questions include: What do they need to do as employees? What do people get wrong? What are the consequences? What are people confused about? What happens if they don’t do it right? Can you give me an example of when someone used this technique successfully?
If these questions are not beneficial, writing information from the SME is the next best option. There may be some information gaps, so it is important to use sources available, do research and try to fill the gaps. When you return to the SME with edited information, it will be impossible for the SME not to correct you. It also makes it easier for the SME to target the exact information you need by fixing the incorrect content.
Lastly, Christy Tucker discussed the 4 C’s: characters, context, challenge and consequences. These are critical parts of each scenario. The characters of a scenario should be real or realistic and relevant characters. The protagonist of the scenario should be like your learner so they can identify with the character. The context is the background of the situation. The context includes how the characters speak, the environment and what kind of work the characters do. Things that would create tension in a story or get an emotional reaction are the challenges. It is important to ask what decisions the learners need to make when creating the challenge. Finally, the consequences of a scenario show what happens based on the decisions the learners choose to make. Consequences work more successfully than just telling learners if they are right or wrong. It increases emotional impact to make the scenario-based learning experience more memorable.
Watch the full virtual meeting with Christy Tucker here!