Effects of peer feedback on learning and self-efficacy

6. Third study: Patterns of vocational learners’ interaction on written critical incidents in a computer-supported environment

7.2 Discussion about instructional implications

7.2.1 The resulting instructional scenario

The scenario we designed throughout this research project is organised around three main phases, of a duration of about 1h30’ each. The scenario is characterised by the presence of two writing sessions, with, in between them, one oral discussion about the texts written in the first session. Each phase of the scenario was designed with the direct involvement of the teachers of the school, who played a particularly important role in refining the instructional activity from the first implementation in study one to the progressively modified versions of the following implementations. The teachers contributed in ensuring that the tasks and activities presented would be well integrated in the curriculum and aligned with apprentices’ development and competence level. Figure 13 presents the main characteristics and features of the scenario implemented and its organisation in the three sessions.

Giulia Ortoleva  Writing to Share, Sharing to Learn

148 Figure 13. Complete scenario of the activity implemented (Unpublished research report, Dual-T Consortium)

The first session of this learning activity is dedicated to the individual writing of critical situations, followed by a peer-feedback activity, and by the redaction of a conclusion by the author of the episode. This activity represents in this scenario the collection phase, in which the episodes lived in the workplace by apprentices are reported in the classroom environment, in order to be shared and exploited in the collective environment of the classroom. In this same activity, the exploitation phase of the scenario begins, as the peer-feedback activity conducted on the episodes represents a first exploitation of the situations collected.

This activity is followed by two other sessions: the second session is a class discussion, requiring apprentices to discuss collectively the situations described. Very importantly, before this discussion session, the teacher involved in the implementation of the activity organises the episodes reported by the apprentices in meaningful clusters of situations treating, for example, of similar topics, or situation arising the same type of challenges, or emotional reactions (this clustering activity could be conducted by the students in collaboration with the teacher, in order to support their abstraction from their personal experience). Once the episodes clustered by themes, they are discussed in a classroom debate which touches upon all the topics described by the apprentices. This way, all situations can be treated in one single session, allowing all participants to intervene, by specifying aspects of the incidents they described themselves and debating on the situations lived by their fellow apprentices. This discussion session would allow to identify common trends and issues encountered by apprentices and treat them in an open debate.

149 Finally, in the last writing session, participants are asked to go back to their episodes. In this phase, the common issues emerged in the oral discussion session become key elements of the activity. Additional material, as videos or text, associated to the topic treated in the discussion, is presented to the apprentices by the teachers. On the basis of the debate and of the material proposed to them, participants are asked to write again on their pages and on the ones of their colleagues to resume the most important aspect of the reflection conducted throughout the activity and describe how they think they would handle the critical situations described now, after that they were treated in the collective environment of the classroom.

This scenario represents one complete activity, which would ideally be reproduced various times throughout a school year, in order to result in the creation of a cumulative repository of episodes that can be reorganised and revised. This repository is characterised by both an individual dimension, represented by the text written by each apprentice to describe the difficult situation they lived in their work practice, and a collective one, as it contains the comments and feedback provided by others (figure 14), and is structured around the main clusters emerging as key and common challenge of the apprentices (figure 15).

Figure 14. Individual and collective dimensions of the repository, represented by the individual writing of a difficult situation and the peer-comments and suggestions of the colleagues

Giulia Ortoleva  Writing to Share, Sharing to Learn

150 Figure 15. Collective dimension of the repository, structured around the main clusters emerging as key and common challenge for the apprentices

In the literature review introducing this research, we presented different models on which we based the design of the scenario. We will now consider the way in which our activity reflects the most important aspects treated in each one of these models. Computer-supported collaborative writing scenario and the Erfahrraum model

As it appears in the schema presented above (figure 13), this scenario contains the three most important steps characterising the Erfahrraum model (Schwendimann et al., submitted): Collection, Exploitation, and Validation. All these phases were adapted to the particular characteristics of the professional education involved in this research. This is particularly important for the collection and the validation phases that were designed taking into account the constraints given by the privacy of the patients. This adaptation of the Erfahrraum model makes this scenario particularly flexible and adaptable to virtually all working conditions.

The collection phase of this scenario is conducted in the first part of the initial session, in which apprentices are asked to describe a difficult situation encountered in the workplace, in relation to a given topic. This represents a way of collecting critical situations without violating the intimacy and the privacy of the patients, as no information allowing to trace any personal data is required and additionally, the platform is not accessible to anyone but the class concerned, and the teacher and researcher collaborating on this activity.

151 The exploitation phase is the key aspect of this activity and various sessions are dedicated to it. More particularly, the second part of the first session, in which learners are required to provide and receive peer-feedbacks, comments, and suggestions represents a first exploitations of the episodes, as well as the conclusion written by each apprentices to his /her situation. Additionally, the second session of the scenario, with its oral discussion represents a key aspect of the exploitation of the situation described, as the final session, with its new material and conclusions on the situations.

The validation phase in the computer-supported collaborative writing scenario is associated with the successive implementation of the pedagogical activity over time. The repository of situations emerging from these multiple implementations, representing individual and collective knowledge, remains accessible for the learners to be consulted and revised at each time of their educational path.

Additionally, it is possible to go back to the previously written situations and detail, as apprentices advance in their curriculum, whether they happened to live similar incidents again, how they reacted or how they think now they would handle similar issues. The validation phase in this activity is therefore very interesting, even if it requires conducting the scenario in multiple occasions. The other two phases, and more particularly, the exploitation phase can, on the other hand, be implemented from the very first run of the scenario with satisfactory results. Computer-supported collaborative writing scenario and the Integrative Pedagogy model A great source of inspiration for the design of the computer-supported collaborative writing scenario was provided by the Integrative Pedagogy model (Tynjälä et al, 2006; Tynjälä, 2008; Heikkinen et al., 2011; Tynjälä and Gijbels, 2012), in which writing and discussion are conceptualized as key mediating tools to support learners in performing the connections between theoretical knowledge acquired in school and practical experience encountered in the workplace. The activity created in this context follows this main concept, as it allows learners to bring situations encountered in their practice to school, where they are discussed according to the theoretical aspects thought in this environment. The use of the suggested mediating tools activates metacognitive and reflective skills representing the self-regulative knowledge, fundamental to perform the connections between theory and practice.

Additionally, the integrative pedagogy model considers that a powerful mediating process is represented by problem solving activities. As in the computer-supported collaborative writing scenario learners are asked to describe a critical situation, and then to collaborate in identifying possible solutions to solve the issue encountered, we consider that this activity represents a form of problem solving, particularly relevant in this case, as issued from real workplace practice, instead of being an artificial activity designed for this purpose.

In this context, we consider that the fact of discussing about the working situations and conditions encountered by each apprentice in his /her working practice represents a way to increase the socio-cultural knowledge of the participants. This type of knowledge represents all the knowledge that is

Giulia Ortoleva  Writing to Share, Sharing to Learn

152 embedded in the social practices of workplaces and is learned through participation in these practices.

The fact of acquiring information of the social practice encountered by others allows apprentices to have a more complete overview of the working conditions associated with their profession.

The scenario presented in this activity represents an interesting way to integrate the four types of knowledge mentioned in the integrative pedagogy model. To this respect, we believe that the scenario emerging from our research represents a successful implementation of this pedagogical concept. Computer-supported collaborative writing model and its evolution

In the early stage of the conceptualisation of the computer-supported collaborative writing scenario, we designed a new model resulting from the consideration of both the Erfahrraum and the Integrative Pedagogy model, adapted to the particular context of implementation. The idea underling this new design was the one of exploiting the key aspects associated with these pedagogies, in order to create an environment in which to connect the individual and the collective dimensions associated with vocational learning. The use of individual writing of critical situations encountered in the workplace and sharing these situations with others, both in written and oral formats, allows for apprentices to bring their individual experiences lived in the workplace to a collective environment in which they are allowed to receive from others and to provide to them ideas and options on how to deal with the situations that may be encountered.

This scenario allows vocational education students to bring together the individual learning they encounter in their workplace practice, with the collective dimension of learning encountered by students in the classroom situation (Ortoleva, Bétrancourt & Morand, 2012). The scenario proposed presents therefore students with individual as well as collective activities (Dillenbourg & Jermann, 2010). This allows learners to all work, first individually and afterwards collaboratively, on finding new solutions to the challenging situations they encountered in their workplace practice. This, in parallel, provides them with a global overview of the working conditions encountered by others in their workplace practice. In accordance with the socio-constructivist view of learning and particularly with Vygotsky’s concept of zone of proximal development (1978), this type of interaction with peers, based on the identification of possible solutions to critical situations, could augment learners’ potential capacity of performing a task. Vygotsky’s definition of zone of proximal development is the following: “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (p. 78). In the case of our scenario, there is no explicit hierarchy of learners’ levels of capability, has these depend on the specific situation under analysis, but anyone who had encountered similar critical experiences can contribute with the needed insights to elaborate possible alternative solutions. Additionally, collaboration can have other

153 important beneficial effects on the learning process (Davies, 2002), by, for example, provoking and mediating a socio-cognitive conflict between learners (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006).

To sum up, therefore, we consider that this scenario represent a successful implementation of the computer-supported collaborative writing pedagogical model, based on the idea of using this type of pedagogical activities in the context of vocational education. In order to obtain this result, the two models of integrative pedagogy and the erfahrraum were exploited, adapted to the specific characteristics of the learning context. This would allow students to perform the connections between theory and practice, and school and the workplace. We consider that the scenario we proposed represents the answer to the first of our three design questions associated with this research, considering how learning activities can efficiently articulate individual and collective dimensions of learning.

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