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  • Writer's pictureJake Mazulewicz, Ph.D.

How to Teach HPI with Interactive Discussion Cases

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

For five years, I taught Human Performance to 3,600 electric utility Lineworkers, Substation Engineers, System Operators, and their leaders... but not all at once. :)

After just my first few classes, I learned that many of them hated how Human Performance (HP) was traditionally taught.


~ Abstract theory like "Re + Mc --> 0E"

~ Unfamiliar terms like "Precursor"

~ Confusing concepts like "knowledge-based" vs. "skill-based" vs. "rule based"

Human Performance was losing credibility... fast. So, to rebuild the "brand" of Human Performance among those 3,600 front-line experts, I knew I had to dramatically increase engagement, and prevent "Death-by-Slideshow" in HP trainings. But how?

The breakthrough was using Discussion-Based Teaching Cases -- interactive stories based on real incidents in which learners regularly discuss the question, "What would you do at this point in the story and why?

Here's the short version of how to lead a Case in a one-hour time block.

  1. I give essential details about the job and reveal to the audience, only what the real world crew knew at that time (~10 mins).

  2. Working in pairs, the audience does a Pre-Job Briefing for the job, or at least answers a few key questions about how they would do the job, what precautions they would take, and why. We discuss some of this as a large group. (~20 mins).

  3. I reveal what happened in the incident / event, but not why it happened. (~10 mins).

  4. Working in pairs again, the audience does a brief After Action Review (AAR). We discuss as a large group, then I reveal key points of what the official event analysis found. (~20 mins).

The result?

Immediate, dramatic and long-lasting. I wound up leading my original hour-long case "The Motor Operated Air Break (MOAB) Case probably over 100 times.

And since the discussion was different every time, engagement stayed high and people got deeper "layers" of insight as they discussed that same case for the 2nd, 3rd, or even the 4th time.

If you experiment with Discussion-Based Cases for your Human Performance program, please drop me an email and let me know how it went!

Good luck & take care,

~ Jake

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