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Collaborative analysis of workplace failures to support procedural learning

Key words:

Peer-writing, Peer-tutoring, Dental assistants, Workplace trace, Blog

Learning objective
Perform a radiography correctly
2 lesson units
Individual, class
Dental assistants
Blog, wiki, online portfolio


Dental assistant apprentices used a web-based collaborative writing environment (a wiki) to evaluate a work artefact (a failed radiograph) on the basis of their own experience. After a discussion with the whole class, apprentices completed and commented on their peers’ evaluations. Finally, the apprentices wrote a procedural solution on how to avoid the errors that led to the failed work artefact.

Description of the teaching approach

This scenario is a peer-learning activity. More specifically, it is a peer-writing activity. This means that students have to collaborate and interact with each other to co-construct their knowledge.
Here, the core of the peer-writing activity is that each student has to analyze a workplace trace and comment on it. This allows the students to share their knowledge and experiences with peers through the trace analyses. This produces a collaborative artifact which allows the apprentices to develop guidelines and recommendations on the studied theme (here, dental radiography).
Another advantage of peer-writing activities is that it trains transversal skills, such as writing and collaborative work.




In Realto, you can simply post the traces as pictures and ask students to comment on the images. The advantage is your student can also annotate directly on the picture.

Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams

Use the Wiki app in your Teams classroom, create one page per image and ask your student to comment on them. They can use the comment function or write down in the wiki page to comment on others’ analysis for the peer-analysis.

You can also post the images in the general channel of your Teams workspace and ask them to write down their analysis and comments in the comments.


Use the Peer-Work feature (more info here) or the Wiki feature (more info here).

The peer-work feature allows you to randomly assign the traces to your students.

Tips and tricks

  • Choose a workplace trace relevant to the vocational field. In the case apprentices are unable to collect traces on the workplace, or if the gathered set of traces is not complete enough, the teacher can use his own “workplace” traces.

  • You can also use a critical situation writing activity. See the scenario Critical incident peer-writing for more details.

  • You can also use videos as workplace traces. You can use the scenario Procedure video recording for inspiration about video recording in the workplace.

  • Students may feel overwhelmed by the analysis task. To avoid that, make sure to provide prompts to guide the analysis, to make the student feel more efficient.

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Discuss and exchange

You can discuss and share your experience about the scenarios on the Skillsnet Community network:


  • Gavota, M. C., Cattaneo, A., Arn, C., Boldrini, E., Motta, E., Schneider, D., & Betrancourt, M. (2010). Computer‐supported peer commenting : A promising instructional method to promote skill development in vocational education. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 62(4), 495‑511.

  • Schwendimann, B. A., Cattaneo, A. A., Dehler Zufferey, J., Gurtner, J.-L., Bétrancourt, M., & Dillenbourg, P. (2015). The ‘Erfahrraum’: A pedagogical model for designing educational technologies in dual vocational systems. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 67(3), 367‑396.3

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