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Goal-Based Scenarios (GBS)


“Goal-based scenarios, introduced by Roger Schank, are a model of constructivist learning that combines case-based learning with learning by doing. Goal-based scenarios teach a set so steps need to take in order to accomplish desired goal. According to Schank,

  • The intent of a goal based scenario is to provide motivation, a sense of accomplishment, a support system, and a focus on skills rather than facts.1)

What are goal-based scenarios?

Schank starts from the assumption that

  • every aspect of human behavior involves the pursuit of goals.” and ”If goals are at the base of the human thought process, then it follows that learning must be a goal-dominated arena as well.2)

Learning in school is unsuccessful for children since it replaces natural learning goals which were fostered by curiosity and desire to learn the world by artificial goals assigned to them by someone else. Instead of learning to be able to do something, children at that time start to learn in order to please the teacher, get good grades, or in order get into a good college. Goal-based scenarios serve here as a mean of achieving educational purposes by attempting to achieve set of scenario goals which are more meaningful and motivating for the learners.

Essential elements of a goal-based scenario are3):

  • Learning goals – target skills that students should learn. They can refer to procedural or declarative knowledge.
  • Mission – motivational and realistic objective students will pursue.
  • Cover story – a motivating story that will create and explain the need for the mission.
  • Role – the character a student will play. It has to require target skills.
  • Scenario operations – all activities students will perform in order to fulfill the mission.
  • Resources – well organized and accessible information sources students will need to acquire target skills.
  • Feedback – must be provided just in time by and expert in form of coaching, consequence of actions or stories about similar experiences.

Proponents of goal-based scenarios emphasize the effect goal-based scenarios have on motivation and thereby enhance learning. One of the conducted studies4) for example found positive effects on learning of a hypertext presented information source embedded in a goal-based scenario compared to classical tutorial or just the hypertext.”