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Learning Model

De Anza College, Foothill College, Carnegie Mellon University, SRI, and industry representatives have developed a scenario-based curriculum that simulates complex problems. The model draws upon Cognitive Science research of the late 80s done by Dr. Roger Schank and others. The model is based on the Story-Centered Curriculum (SCC) approach used at CMU-Silicon Valley.

Key components of the pedagogical model
  • A detailed scenario describing the company in which the students are “employed” and their roles within that company. The rich context allows for reliable transfer of skills and knowledge from the course to the workplace.
  • Online resources and links, which provide just-in-time learning and scaffolding for students, allowing them to build on their existing knowledge.
  • Team based projects and tasks, providing students with practice in working and communicating with fellow “employees,” while they learn by doing.
  • Role playing that allows students to live the life of a worker in the target field, learning and practicing to be a professional.
  • Reflection questions, allowing students to think about and articulate what they learned throughout the process of working on a task.
  • Tasks and product deliverables, which are based on industry standards, and replace assignments and exams.
  • Team meetings with management (the instructor), which replace lectures.

Performance support for students is provided for each task through a suggested plan of attack, tips and traps, and a checklist for deliverables. In addition, the instructor serves as upper management guiding the student toward resources as needed. Subject matter experts serve as Mentors to the students and are available to consult on some tasks.

Performance support for instructors and mentors is provided through instructor guides that include rubrics, task overviews, and teaching tips (see Scenarios page for links to available guides).

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