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Critical incident peer-writing

Key words:

Critical incident, Peer-writing, Peer-tutoring, Health care assistants, Blog

Learning objective
Better manage relationship with patients
2-3 lesson units
Health care assistants
Wiki web space


In this scenario, health care assistants write about a critical event that happened to them regarding their relationship with patients. Then, each assistant is given another assistant’s writing to read. Each assistant gives advice directly on the document, if possible by referring to their own experiences. Finally, the assistants get their written piece back so they can look at the comments and, if necessary, respond to them.

Description of the teaching approach

Peer-writing is a collaborative learning strategy in which students co-construct knowledge by writing and commenting on defined themes. The starting point of the discussion can be defined using the Critical incident technique (CIT).
The critical incident technique focuses on a critical problematic situation and packs it into a short story (by asking a student to describe a critical situation he or she encountered). In this scenario, the assistants first described what happened in writing, then added explanations about the incident to the writings of their peers. The CIT method allows students to analyze and reflect on their own problem solving behavior.




You can ask your student to post their critical incident story in Realto and ask their peer to comment on the post to share their peer-feedback. Post the instructions in an initial post. You can also create an album to gather all the posts of this specific scenario.


You can create the wiki space and the pages with the Wiki tool integrated in Moodle. Students can log in the course space and access their Wiki page easily. See this link to learn more about this tool and how to use it.

Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams

You can create the wiki space and the pages with the Wiki app in Microsoft Teams. Students can log in the class Teams space and access their Wiki page by clicking on the right tab. See this link to learn more about this app and how to use it.

Collaborative notepad
Collaborative notepad

Collaborative writing notepad: you can do this activity using a collaborative notepad such as Framapad or Google Doc. Create one page for each student (just like the wiki pages), then create a summary page containing the links to all the students’ pages, so that you only need to share the summary page link to your students.

Framapad automatically distinguishes authors by highlighting the text with colors (1 color is 1 author). Google Doc does not distinguish authors, so don’t forget to ask your student to distinguish their work in the pages with font color or by signing their work or to use the revision/suggestion functions.

Tips and tricks

  • You can either assign wiki pages or let your student decide which incident they want to comment on.

  • It is important to provide guidelines for each of the peer writing steps in order for the reflective writing to be useful and efficient.

  • This critical incident method can be adapted to any vocational context. For example, the critical incident could be social situation (think about and describe one time when your client was not satisfied with your work) or a procedure (Think about and describe a time when you created a short circuit).

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Discuss and exchange

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


  • Ortoleva, G., & Bétrancourt, M. (2016). Supporting productive collaboration in a computer-supported instructional activity : Peer-feedback on critical incidents in health care education. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 68(2), 178‑197.

  • Ortoleva, G., & Bétrancourt, M. (2015). Collaborative writing and discussion in vocational education : Effects on learning and self-efficacy beliefs. Journal of Writing Research, 7(1), 95‑122.

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