Benefits of scenario-based learning in university education

Elliott-Kingston, C., Doyle, O. P. E. and Hunter, A. (2016) Benefits of scenario-based learning in university education. Acta horticulturae (No.112). pp. 107-113.


As an applied science, horticulture is particularly suited to interactive teaching and learning methods. Much of the undergraduate learning in horticulture is passive; therefore, more active learning strategies should be introduced. One such active learning technique is scenario-based learning (SBL). This form of learning allows students to apply academic knowledge to a simulated LSQUOreal-lifeRSQUO situation. It is particularly suited to promoting group participation and learning. Its use provides students with the opportunity to recognise and solve problems, to think critically and to develop teamwork skills. Recently, an SBL project was introduced to the Fruit Production (HORT30190) undergraduate module at University College Dublin. In order to implement the project, the class was divided into groups and each group was required to establish a hypothetical commercial dessert, culinary or cider apple orchard in Ireland. The groups were required to consider site characteristics, growing and pruning systems, rootstocks, cultivars, pollinator selection and planting density. They presented their results in class using posters and submitted a personal learning journal associated with the project, both of which were assessed by staff. Student response to the SBL project was evaluated for benefits such as increased understanding of course material, acquisition of transferable skills and enjoyment of the learning method. This project is an example of formative assessment in action. Scenario-based learning allows students to contextualise learning while acquiring transferable skills. It is suitable for implementation in a wide range of diverse university modules.

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