Propose an adapted problem situation
IssueA trainee's conceptions of animal welfare are rooted in values with regards to the animal, the human-animal relationship and the profession of animal husbandry. Enabling the trainees to become aware of these values, to grasp their subjective dimension, to substantiate them scientifically and work on them, implies generating a cognitive, emotional and/or ethical conflict. Getting trainees to think about a problem situation (a dilemma, philosophical question, case study, simulation game) is likely to generate such constructive conflicts.
For the trainee it also enables the possibility to discover the interest of another way of learning about animal welfare, one which is more active.
ObjectiveFor the trainer: to develop a situation-problem enabling cognitive dissonance, a socio-cognitive conflict about animal welfare. To propose an active way of teaching animal welfare. To show the posture to take.
For the trainee: to understand the limits and interests of a situation-problem to learn about animal welfare, the way to build a situation-problem.
MethodBefore defining a problem-situation, you have to be clear about the obstacle, which means that it has to be passable, or the competencies that you want to improve.
A problem-situation can be associated with case studies, real cases, a formula that gets in the way (which creates a cognitive conflict, which disturbs), a problem that seems impossible to solve, a result that doesn't seem logical, a dilemma, a philosophical question. Different responses must be acceptable and/or different resolution strategies usable.
It will be chosen to be provocative and motivating according to the main conceptions of the learners. It must be complex enough to allow different possible solutions. The data proposed as part of the problem situation must be intelligible to the pupils to whom they are addressed.
The triggers and the information given in the problem-situations are a key-point. They must question, disturb the references, annoy, surprise. Usually “the learners speak about their practices, but they compare them to nothing. To make a choice it’s necessary to know several things. If you know only one aspect, there is no choice. If you only know the practices of your parents or your professional trainer, you don’t make any choices. To know why you make this or that choice, you need to build a professional identity.” (a zootechnical trainer). So, it’s necessary to put forward information and new practices which are unknown, even considered as marginal. Anicare proposes a panel of videos with several ways of acting around a professional situation and a platform, Aniphi for analyzing a problem-situation in a confident atmosphere in presence or distance training configurations. They are not proposed to be followed as good practices, but more to open the mind of the trainee about other possibilities for teaching the subject of animal welfare, to open their creativity.
- 1. The following case study has been proposed to trainees to develop an ethical judgement related to bedding for cows:
This problem-situation should shed light on whether animal welfare is taken into account in the reasoning, according to a given conception and how it is integrated into economic reasoning.
- 2. The dilemma is one type of problem-situation that invites the learner to contextualize the problem and implement an ethical judgement. The situation is therefore a dilemma for the trainees (and not only for the trainer). If the whole group has a clear-cut opinion on the dilemma, it is not educational, as it does not allow the argument to be deepened. If, on the contrary, it generates discomfort, a disorder in the trainees, then it is a source of learning.
- • Do we have to dehorn or not dehorn the calves or cows?
- • Do we have to castrate the piglets or maintain their integrity?
Projecting trainees into the future, or in other words proposing a prospective education, can also help the learners implement critical and creative thinking and identify social issues. For instance: “according to the social situation now and the different points of view about animal welfare, what will be the human-animal production relationship in 2050?”.
Pitfalls and recommendations
One can easily be inclined to counsel rather than accompany the trainee. Counseling leads to doing some of the work for the trainee. Accompanying means understanding where the trainee is stuck and helping him/her to find their solution to a problem.
The trainee has to be advised about the choice of the problem-situation. It should be adapted to the public: where study cases may be attractive for some learners (such as farmer students), they may make engineers or veterinarians more uncomfortable. The latter ask for a lot of information and have more difficulties in thinking with incomplete information. In other words, these students want to have a systemic view of the problem integrating several dimensions. But it is usually impossible to describe a situation giving all the information needed. It is possible to give only some of the elements of the problem with the missing elements being asked of the facilitator and provided as the students bring them up.
The learner often tries to identify the objectives of the educator. He/she will consciously or not reduce their way of thinking according to what they think the educator wants from them. For example, as one student said to his teacher: “I think you wanted to steer us towards a given type of cow housing. So our answers were oriented in that direction.”
All recommendations can be discussed with the trainee at the end of the problem-situation. It can be a good starter to suggest that they create their own problem-situation according to the public they have.