When judgement is required to a problem, use Scenario Based Learning (SBL).

​​“Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt.”

When learners commit errors and are given corrective feedback, the errors are not learned. Even strategies that are highly likely to result in errors, like asking someone to try to solve a problem before being shown how to do it, produce stronger learning and retention of the correct information than more passive learning strategies, provided there is corrective feedback.

When would I use Scenario Based Learning (SBL)?
When Judgement is required to solve a problem.

SBL can be used in a wide range of contexts, but it works especially effectively when used to simulate real-world practice, providing opportunities which may be difficult for students to experience within the confines of a course. Successful scenarios have been developed around topics as wide-ranging as structural failure in bridges; pesticide applications for apple orchards, and the nursing management of myocardial infarction. SBL can be used as part of either formative or summative assessment
SBL usually works best when applied to tasks requiring decision-making and critical thinking in complex situations. Tasks that are routine to the students will require little critical thinking or decision-making, and may be better assessed using other methods.

How can I start creating SBL?

  • Identify the learning outcomes: It is important to identify what it is you want students to achieve on completion of the scenario, and then to work backwards from the learning outcomes to create the situation that will lead to this learning.
  • Decide on your format: Is your scenario going to be delivered in the face-to-face or online environments? What media (photographs, audio, video) and other resources will you need? If you are using an online scenario, will you provide other supporting activities, such as wikis, discussion forums, etc.?
  • Choosing a topic: Remember that non-routine tasks lend themselves to scenario-based learning. Consider using ‘critical incidents’ and challenging situations that have occurred in your subject area.
  • Identify the trigger event or situation: This will be the starting point of your scenario. As you create the scenario, identify decision points and key areas for feedback and student reflection. Creating a storyboard is an effective way to do this.
  • Peer review your scenario: Ask colleagues to work through the scenario to ensure that it flows in the way you expect, and achieves the outcomes you intended.

Guidelines for branching scenarios
If you’ve got a branching scenario, you might try this:

  • Plot the scenario with three types of endings in mind: one best ending, a few mediocre ones, and a few poor ones.
  • Build the plot, letting paths occasionally cross so players can realize they’re heading for a poor ending and get on a better path.
  • Make any job aid or other reference available at all times.
  • Have each decision result in a realistic consequence with no “telling” feedback to interrupt the story.
  • If you have any especially tricky decisions or startling consequences, consider offering an optional hint or explanation at that point, in a link.
  • At each ending, first show the end of the story. Then (optionally or not) describe how the player got to that point, point out mistakes they made, and offer hints that will help them do better when they play again.

There are lots of other approaches, of course, depending on how much experience people already have, how open they are to this type of activity, and what types of skills you want them to practice.

Plot a Story Structure according to Freytag’s Triangle
Write a good structured story following the steps below:


  • The background knowledge you need to understand the story
  • What are the characters
  • What is the taking place
  • What’s going on
  • What’s the situation
  • Inciting incident
  • Keep the whole story going on

Rising action: A series of stories that keep the readers engaging

Climax: The most exciting part of the story

Falling action: The events that occuring the story is the result of the climax action

Resolution: The problem or the conflict of the story is done

Denouement: Any of the story’s outstanding businesses are tighten up