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Use Case Scenario: Coping with examination-related stress

The RU EU game can be used in different ways (future time). Therefore use cases are a valuable way of uncovering implied functionality that is expected to occur due to different ways in which the game can be used. Minimally such a use case (scenario) description should keep in mind the following:

  1. Which are the stakeholders involved and which value does the game provide them?
  2. What is the narrative describing how this value will be provided? The use case should have both a main flow (sometimes called the basic flow or “happy day” scenario) and alternate flows. Any use case that doesn’t have at least a few alternate flows should be suspect. It is probably too granular to rightfully be a good use case if you cannot come up with a few alternate flows to accompany the basic flow. The footnote contains some elements to work out this narrative.[1]
  3. How is the use case combined with others, e.g. embedded in the (use case of) the course? However, according to UML, use cases should not be sequenced or have dependencies. Within the UML there are some structuring constructs that allow relationships between use cases, but these should be used sparsely and generally not early in the evolution of the use case model. A use case should be something that could be delivered in a release of the software as a self contained capability that provides value back to the actor or some stakeholder.
  4. What are the (learning) activities to be executed with the game? E.g., individual / collaborative, sequential / selection, etc. The use case must not describe the game design. Use cases describe “what” the system does not “how” it does it. They are a “black box” description of the system from the perspective of the actor. Your use case description template can certainly provide additional sections for special requirements such as design constraints or business rules, but the basic and alternate flows should focus on the “what” not “how.”
[1] Alistair Cockburn’s use case template can be used to further work out the narrative: (1) Title a very short description; (2) Narrative a general description of the use case in educational terms (see below); (3) Primary Actor student in student led learning, teacher in teacher led situations; (4) Scope runtime systems involved in the delivery; (5) Level – description of the level of complexity; (6) Stakeholders and Interests a discussion of the roles and their respective responsibilities; (7) Preconditions a specification of what is needed in order to provide the student with learning experiences; (8) Minimal Guarantees – role specific preconditions; (9) Success Guarantees – role specific demands for the learning experience to be successful; (10) Main Success Scenario relate to the runtime systems involved; (11) Pedagogy/Type of learning – case based, problem based, individualized linear, etc.; (12) Learning objectives – idem; (13) Roles: – the various participants, such as student, tutor, assessor, etc.; (14) Different types of learning content used – local texts, internet pages, multimedia DVDs; (15)Different types of learning services/facilities/tools used – external expert, groupware; (16) Different types of collaborative activities – among students, between students and tutors, etc; (17) Learning activity workflow – how Actors / Content / Services interact; (18) Scenarios – e.g., the same content may be used for face-to-face and distance learning; (19) Other needs / Specific requirements – e.g. accessibility, specific target groups, etc; and (20) Extensions – various failure scenarios.

 

Stakeholders

Erasmus students approaching the end of their visit at a host institution.

Narrative

Erasmus experiece is trasnformational; for many students, especially undergraduates, Erasmus exchange is their first extended period of time spent outside of their home country.

Attending classes, and especially taking exams, can be a challenging experience for visiting Erasmus students. Student command of English, as well as teachers’ command of English, might be an obstacle for full participation, especially during exam period. This can cause stress, execerbated by the fear of getting lower marks then deserved. While teachers do their best to accomodate visiting Erasmus students, exam time is one of the most stressful experience during their visit at a foreign institution.

After students have taken all exams, and before they leave their host country, students are invited to the Erasmus office for a session. At the session, students are invited to play the RU-EU? game; after they finish playing, they are invited to discuss their experience at the host institution with Erasmus coordinator. The discussion is about positive and negative experiences of their Erasmus visit, with an accent to exams taken and success achieved at the exams. Based on their experience of playing the RU-EU? game, and with the help of the Erasmus coordinator, students develop a wider picture of benefits of their Erasmus visit beyond examination success.

Embedding in the course / education

According to the project proposal, the RU EU? game has many dimensions: the social dimension, the knowledge-development dimension, etc. In this scenario, the RU EU? game adds an important psychological dimension to student experience. Using rational arguments from other dimensions, this use case aims to help students cope with stress of examination in a foreign country and working in a foreign language.

The narrative can be employed by Erasmus coordinators (as proposed above) and also by student support officers, individual teachers and course directors. The narrative is a part of informal curriculum, and does not contribute to formal student assessment.

For students of social sciences, political sciences and business in particular, the narrative can be generalized beyond their own Erasmus experience. Following this generalization, students will be able to cope with own stress and recognize similar types of stress in others.

(Learning) Activities and outcomes

Learning outcomes include:

  1. Recognising various forms of stress arriving from working in a foreign context, with an accent to examination stress.
  2. Rationalizing stress arriving from working in a foreign context by the way of rationalization, e.g. understanding the inevitability of stress in relation to benefits pertaining to a foreign-country experience.
  3. Contextualizing examination stress, and other forms of school-related stress, within the scope of overall experience in a foreign country.

Recognising these forms of stress in others, and developing an understanding of possible ways of helping others cope with similar kinds of stress.