Scenario-based question

As part of my TDP assessment module, we were required to design a scenario-based question that met the following criteria:

  1. Specific outcomes are clearly stated
  2. Adheres to principles of constructive alignment
  3. Contains the relevant context and problems
  4. Questions are at the appropriate cognitive levels.

At the time I was teaching a Landscape Technology Management course to third year students and devised the following scenario-based question (which I subsequently used in their June exam paper!):


  • understand and function within the requirements of professional ethics
  • prepare tender documentation
  • understand the role of the landscape architect in a tender process


You are a landscape architect and one of your clients satisfied with the landscape design and is ready to move into the construction phase. He is debating whether to run a tender process or to nominate or appoint a landscape contractor.


  1. Can you explain to the client the advantages and disadvantages of a competitive tender? (Note: Level 3)
  2. As a landscape architect, what type of documentation would you have to prepare for a tender process? (Note: Level 2)
  3. What are your responsibilities (as a landscape architect) to ensure the tender is transparent, fair and accurate? (Level 4)



Clicker questions

I recently watched a video of Eric Mazur in action demonstrating a “Think-Pair-Share” technique. This technique works by a lecturer posting a question to the students (think). Students then pair up and try to convince the other student of their answer (share) with the aim that students learning from each other and not necessarily from the lecturer. In the video a few students were interviewed after the class and one student spoke about how he felt that he learned more quickly from his fellow students than the lecturer because the students were able to explain the concept that they themselves had just learned.

I had recently been covering a section of work on various labour relations acts and at the end of the session presented the students with 10 clicker questions to recap and test what they had learnt. (Formative assessment provides opportunities for students to measure their understanding during the course.)  I presented the clicker questions in an Eric Mazur Think-Pair-Share method: the question was shown and polled, and instead of giving the correct answer straightaway, students were encouraged to convince the person next to them of their answer, and then the question was re-polled.

See an example of a clicker question below:

Management 2 Labour relations quiz


As part of our TDP portfolio we were required to create a 5-10 minute video of evidence of teaching/learning.

A colleague filmed the last lesson of the term for my Landscape Technology Management 3B class. We had been learning about the components of a tender process and to summarise the semester’s work and to practice potential exam questions, I created a Trivial Pursuit-style game. The class divided themselves into groups and each group had to “collect” 6 correct answers – one for each of the six categories on the boardgame.

I have uploaded the video onto Flickr, you can view it here or click on:

Flipped classroom experiment

We learnt about Eric Mazur’s “Flipped classroom” theory in our TDP course. We had also recently been through a module on annotated writing and the benefits of encouraging students to read academic articles.

In my Supervisory Management class I had covered topics such as global economics and students had worked in groups to learn about economic groups such as BRICS, the EU, the G8, the difference between developed and developing nations and what is GDP. I had been doing some research on another module involving leadership and came across a South African article written about one of my personal heroes – Ricardo Semler – a Brazilian CEO who made radical changes to the way his company operated and treated its employees. This seemed like a good opportunity to practice a “flipped classroom” teaching strategy. (Eric Mazur’s “flipped classroom” encourages students to prepare the the class themselves and focuses lecture time on discussions and clarifying issues.)

I posted the article onto Blackboard and asked the students to read it before the next class:

Activity: Read the article “Democratising profit”[1] that appeared in Maverick on 14 June 2007.

Please read the following article in preparation for Friday’s lecture.
Start by reading through the article and underlining all the words you do not understand.
Look up the meanings of the underlined words and write a word or phrase near each underlined word.
Reread the article, and at the end of each paragraph, try to summarise what is being said in one short sentence.

When students arrived in class, I put up the following questions and asked the students to discuss the answers in groups.

1. What economic group do Brazil and South Africa belong to? What are some of the characteristics of the countries in this group? According to Semler, what are some of the similarities between Brazil and South Africa?

2. What is Ricardo Semler’s attitude towards competing with China economically?

3. What evidence does the article provide that suggests the type of economy in Brazil?

4. Do you agree with the statement that Ricardo Semler is a good leader? Provide examples from the article to support your answer.

5. How does control work in Semler’s organisation?

I then walked around the class, listening to the discussions and helping students when they required clarification or guidance. The questions forced the students to understand the article and to apply knowledge from multiple modules of the course. Some students struggled with this “multi-box” thinking but my hope was that by working in groups there would be opportunities for peer mentoring.

Once the students had sufficient time to discuss all the questions, I asked for complete silence and that each student individually answer the questions. I took these in for marking and overall I was very impressed with the level of thinking and understanding of the students. Although it took the entire lesson to go through 5 questions, I feel that the students learned more than just content – my intention was for them to also learn how to de-compartmentalise their knowledge and be able to apply their knowledge (thinking about Bloom’s taxonomy) and also to practice good academic reading skills.