On one type of pedagogical situations: classification and practical aspects

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On the basis of the previous theoretical research conducted by the author, in this paper the concept of “pedagogical situation” in described in connection with the concept of “pedagogical event”. The classification of pedagogical situations presented in the paper is based on the possibility and ability of a pedagogical situation to reach a pedagogical problem, to achieve a pedagogical effect and thus to become a pedagogical event. On the basis of these grounds as well as the logic and practice of a teacher's everyday work, the three types of situations were identified. The first of them, that is a pedagogical situation in which the goal is achievable, which means that the situation can change from a potential situation to an actual situation, is described in the paper. The goal-oriented principle of analysis opens up the prospect of establishing relationships between all the parameters of the situation and the personal characteristics of its participants. The scheme for describing pedagogical situations logically includes the following components: participants (teachers and students a potential pedagogical agent), goal/task, conditions (locus).

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The notion of “situation” today acquires a general methodological significance, as it is one of the main categories in pedagogy, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, culturology, logic and other human and social sciences. Human life consists of a huge variety of fragments - situations. Being in this or that situation, a person interacts with the surrounding world. Situations open the field of activities and experiences fora person, fill his existence with meaning [1]. However, human existence is full not only of situations, but also of events, so both categories are actively used in pedagogy, as well as in other sciences of social-humanitarian and even technical direction.

Different approaches to the interpretation of the relationship between the concepts «situation» and «event» can be found in the scientific literature: considering an event as a structural element of a situation, and vice versa, or interpreting them as equivalent concepts. These concepts are part of the scientific apparatus of many sciences, and each scientific field understands them in its own way.

Based on the conducted interdisciplinary research, we were able to distinguish between the concepts of “event” and “situation” [2, 3]. Thus, the concept of «event» is defined as a significant change in the subject’s reality, behaviour or inner world, which has a certain spatial and temporal localization. That is, we speak of an event as something that has happened, has changed in the subject’s environment, behaviour or inner world. An event can only happen in some space, in some time continuum - this space-time continuum is the situation, because only in a situation something can happen. Outsidea situation, nothing can happen. So a situation is the circumstance in which an event can happen. The realized event is an actual phenomenon, it has materialized, has happened, has become a reality. That is, the situation can essentially be described as a potential dimension of the event and viewed as a structural element of the event.

If we described an event as something that happened, a pedagogical event is something that happened in the context of the educational process. If a pedagogical event has occurred, it means that a change, meaningful to the object of didactic influence (the learner), has taken place within the educational and pedagogical process with an educational and / or pedagogical purpose. This paper examines the pedagogical situations that enabled the pedagogical event to happen, to become an actual phenomenon. It is important to note here that an event may not happen, remain potential, unrevealed. That is, the situation can essentially be described as a potential dimension of the event and viewed as a structural element of the event.

If above we described an event as something that happened, happened, a pedagogical event is something that happened and happened in the context of the educational process. If a pedagogical event has occurred, it means that a change, meaningful to the object of didactic influence (the learner), has taken place that is produced within the educational and pedagogical process with an educational and / or pedagogical purpose. This article examines the pedagogical situations that enabled the event to happen in pedagogical terms.

Literature Review

In pedagogy, a pedagogical situation is traditionally considered as a unit of both teaching and educational process. According to B.P. Bitinas, an elementary unit of pedagogical process should meet the following conditions: have all the essential features of a holistic pedagogical process; be common in implementing any pedagogical goals; be observed and distinguished by abstraction in any real process [4].

The pedagogical situation is an integral part of the pedagogical process,a pedagogical reality through which the teacher controls the pedagogical process and pedagogical system. It is the concentrated expression of the pedagogical process and pedagogical system in their temporal space [5]. Pedagogical situations make up the pedagogical process. The dynamism of the learning process; its ability to self-move and self-development is provided, conditioned by pedagogical situations. The pedagogical process can be considered as a continuous chain of interconnected, mutually continuous pedagogical situations. These are the most fluid, rapidly modifiable elements of the learning process.

Teachers acknowledge the functional importance and relevance of the pedagogical situation in the educational process, directly or indirectly refer to the issues of analysis, design, organization of the pedagogical situation, study the pedagogical situation as a means, a condition of the pedagogical process. However, despite the importance of the category itself, the definitions of the pedagogical situation found in the pedagogical literature vary without a clear basis.

The concept ‘pedagogical situation’, in our opinion, indicates the subject activity within which the situation is analysed and can be defined on the basis of the concept ‘situation’ we highlighted earlier. A situation becomes a pedagogical situation if the objectives of teaching, education and pupil development are set in it. A pedagogical situation can be understood as a potential opportunity for an event to take place in pedagogical terms. That is, the pedagogical situation is a potential dimension of the event, while the pedagogical event itself is the actual implementation of some pedagogical intention, pedagogical task, achievement of a pedagogical goal. In this case, we consider pedagogical situation as an integral part of pedagogical event.

The large amount of developments in the field of pedagogical interactions leads to the need for a certain systematization of the obtained knowledge and experience. Hence, it is natural to look for the possibility to identify some typological features which would help to differentiate and arrange the available information. In domestic and foreign pedagogy there are many classifications of pedagogical situations which are based on different grounds.

Since pedagogical situations are numerous, the need to systematise and classify them, i.e. to single out more or less stable types, arises naturally.

Bezrukova’s classification of pedagogical situations is based, for example, on the following grounds:

- according to the place of occurrence and flow that determines the conditions of the situation and the ways they are projected (in the classroom, out of the lesson, on the street, at home, etc.);

- according to the degree of projectivity (deliberately created, designed and natural, spontaneous situations)

- according to the degree of originality (standard, typical, cyclical and non-standard, original)

- according to controllability (rigidly fixed, unmanageable, controllable);

- according to the participants (student-student, student-teacher, parent-student, etc.)

- according to the inherent contradictions (conflictual, non-conflictual, critical);

- according to the content (educational, problem-based, polytechnical, industrial-technical)

- according to the nature (disciplinary, interdisciplinary, general scientific) [6].

V.A. Slastenin distinguishes the following pedagogical situations by the following reasons:

- by the place of origin and course;

- by the interacting subjects and objects;

- by the essence of the pedagogical process (didactic, educational, etc.);

- by the educational perspectives embedded in the situation, etc. [7].

According to N.V. Bordovskaya, situations of pedagogical significance include:

- situations of motivation and stimulation of learning and cognitive activity;

- self-assessment situations;

- situations of problem solving;

- conflict situations;

- communication situations;

- situations of success;

- situations of influence;

- game situations;

- situations of mastering new ways of activity;

- situations of responsible decisions, etc. [8, p. 77-78].

N. Kulutkina and G.S. Sukhobskaya use standard (expected, known, and often repeated) and non-standard (complex, rare, and unlike others) pedagogical situations [9]. Situations of pedagogical importance include: stimulating situations, situations of choice, situations of success, conflict situations, problematic learning situations, problematic task situations, risk situations, situations of criticism and self-criticism, situations of help and mutual assistance, situations of threat of punishment, situations of self-evaluation, situations of communication, situations of submission, situations of conviction, situations of accusation and endurance, situations of rapid shifting in work and communication, situations of competition and rivalry, etc.

I.N. Yemelianova classifies pedagogical situations by characterising them as:

- indefinite (lack of information) and definite (full information is available);

- open (in terms of searching for alternatives) and closed;

- finite - involving only one solution, which definitively solves the situation; and non-conclusive - the solution adopted allows for the possibility of improvement [10].

An extremely generalised classification is offered by B.S. Gershunsky who identifies two classes of pedagogical situations:

- Class 1 requires immediate, urgent decisions and is directly related to a teacher’s daily, practical work (extreme situations);

- Class 2 is non-extreme situations which involve developing a long-term strategy for pedagogical activity [11].

This typology allows us to choose a general strategy to solve a particular pedagogical situation, the question of tactics is left out of consideration.

M.M. Rybakova classifies pedagogical situations into simple and complex ones. The simple ones are solved without students’ resistance through organizing their behavior at school. She names the following types of complex situations: situations of activity arising from a student’s performance of academic tasks, academic performance, extracurricular activities; situations of behavior (deeds) arising from a student’s violation of behavior rules at school and outside school; situations of relationships arising in the sphere of emotional and personal relationships of students and teachers [12]. This typology implies that the meaning of resolving pedagogical situations lies in the special organization of students’ behaviour at school, and the complexity of resolution is determined by the degree of students’ resistance to the teacher’s educational or disciplinary requirements.

Classification is the process of grouping objects of study or observation according to their common characteristics. It is needed to facilitate the use of large classes of objects, to simplify their remembering and designing. The above classifications of situations, in our opinion, not only do not simplify the creation, use and analysis of pedagogical situations, but being built on different bases, introduce a certain confusion in understanding and operating pedagogical situations.

Materials and Methods

The choice of research methods is determined by the peculiarities of studying pedagogical terminology within the framework of pedagogical semiology. This specificity determined the following methods as the main ones: method of logical analysis of general scientific and pedagogical literature; content analysis; system-structural analysis; method of analysis of dictionary definitions; methods of synthesis, generalization, systematization and comparison; method of interpretation and contextual analysis.


Classification is something that involves relying on some logical basis in order to distinguish one or another part of these situations, a nomenclature of particular situations. Such a logical basis in this paper is the possibility and ability ofa pedagogical situation to reach a pedagogical problem, i.e. the possibility of achieving a pedagogical effect. So, in the pedagogical process there is a goal, a task, there isa situation in which the teacher wants to achieve this goal or task to solve. It is then possible to identify situations in which the objective is achievable and the task can be solved. However, there are situations in which it is impossible. And there are those that require a transformation of the situation or the goals.

On the basis of these grounds as well as the logic and practice of a teacher’s everyday work, we have identified three types of situations:

1) A pedagogical situation in which the goal is achievable, which means that the situation can change from a potential situation to an actual situation.

2) A pedagogical situation that does not allow us to achieve a pedagogical goal, and the goal may not be achievable, which means that the situation cannot be developed in such a way as to achieve a pedagogical effect or solve a pedagogical problem.

3) Pedagogical situations which require transformation - adjusting plans, objectives, goals or changing the situation.

Let us further consider how this happens in real pedagogical practice and provide examples of pedagogical situations of the first type relating to the life of education.

Fiction, textbooks, reports, etc. are extremely important sources for obtaining factual material, which provides rich material representing pedagogical reality in all its diversity, allowing for a mental experiment that is often impossible in teaching practice.

The goal-oriented principle of analysis opens up the prospect of establishing relationships between all the parameters of the situation and the personal characteristics of its participants. In the course of the study, we have identified the boundaries of a pedagogical situation, which are defined by the participants, the task and the spatial and temporal parameters. Therefore, the scheme for describing pedagogical situations should logically include the following components: participants (teachers and students a potential pedagogical agent), goal/task, conditions (locus).

Situation 1

Teacher: Grade I-IV teacher Vera Pavlovna Novitskaya (an experienced teacher, «an authentic educator, who without exaggeration can be called the master of children’s hearts. More than one generation has been blessed by her on the long road of life. A deep faith in her educator is what characterises the children’s attitude towards her. The source of it is moral purity and integrity of Vera Pavlovna, first of all, as a person» [13, p. 211-212]).

Participants: 1st grade pupils.

Goal: develop humanity, sympathy, empathy and kindness.

Conditions: Pavlyshsk secondary school, first grade, fourth month, before the lesson

“Before the lesson starts, the teacher asks Kolya N.: “Why weren’t you in school yesterday?” Kolya is anxious, there is sadness in his eyes. The teacher already regrets that she asked in front of the children. “Grandma’s sick,” says Kolya. - Grandma’s eyes hurt. One eye is completely blind... And the other hurts, it is tearing. She walks near the wall and can’t see anything... I am leading her by the hand.”

Some of the children laughed, imagining Kolya leading their grandmother, some said something quippy. The other children held their breath and stared at their teacher. She turned pale. It became quiet. «Children, what are you saying? How can you hurt old people like that?» said Vera Pavlovna, and the pupils were affected not only by the meaning of those words, but above all by how close their teacher had taken everything that had happened to her heart. Both their grandmother’s grief, and the mocking word thrown down by someone. Pale, wide-eyed, she sat down to the table, covered her head with her hands, and sat in silence for a few minutes. The silence in the classroom was so silent that one could hear a woodpecker tapping in the garden somewhere... Vera Pavlovna sighed heavily, went to the window and remained silent for some minutes, looking at the snowflakes falling to the ground. Then she said: «Don’t forget, children, you too will be old someday, you too will have senile diseases.»

There were no specially conceived «educational measures» here, everything happened quite unexpectedly. And the children experienced something that is not forgotten for life. They were moved by the pain and indignation of Vera Pavlovna in the first place. They not only understood, but also felt in their hearts how a real man should relate to the grief of others. And the one who said the hurtful words was ashamed. A burning sense of shame is the best cure for rudeness and disrespect [13, p. 211-212].

Explanation: As can be seen from the situation presented, the children perceived Kolya’s difficult family situation without sympathy or understanding. However, after the teacher reacted to the situation, the pupils’ attitudes changed. Some were even ashamed of their attitude. «The children learn to live with Vera Pavlovna first of all because they feel with their hearts how the teacher experiences everything that is being done around them. They feel deeds and attitudes, good and evil, truth and untruth, honour and dishonor [13, p. 211-212]

Result: The task of the pedagogical situation is fulfilled, the children will no longer be indifferent to the grief of others - they learn to live with their teacher. The pedagogical event has taken place: thanks to the wise behaviour of the teacher, kindness, love of humanity, intransigence to injustice, concern for the grief of others have penetrated the children’s hearts as well.

Situation 2

Teacher: Experienced teacher («a tall, lean, elderly person. She is a great woman. She plays her class with her long, truly pedagogical fingers like an obedient and well-tuned instrument” [14, p. 161-164])

Participants: Pupils of the senior elementary class (children aged 9-10)

Goal: develop feelings, moral values and teach writing.

Conditions: Berne, Einwohner-Mädchenschule Elementary, Secondary and Upper Secondary classes, on a lesson

«When I entered the classroom, the children were doing their homeland studies: they were telling about their surroundings in Bern using a blueprint. (...) They had been at it for a long time, and with the intense attention span required by the subject they must have been tired. When the mentor noticed this, she suggested a choral sing-along. You must have seen how the children were animated: some suggested one song, others another; but most of the voices were in favour of a certain cuckoo.

The teacher, however, disapproved of the choice and suggested other songs. What a powerful pedagogical tool, choral singing! How it revives the children’s tired energy, how it quickly organises the class (...).

The children (...) sang, not by notes, but with the same pedagogical fingers of their teacher: how it was done, I can’t explain. When they sang a few songs, some of which breathed the freshness of the mountain nature, she let the children sing the cuckoo too. (...) She did very well in letting them sing their favourite song; but she also did very pedagogically by making them sing a few of those songs beforehand, which had more sense and fine feeling. (...)

Refreshed by the singing, the children started again with friendship and energy. From the book of Chudy they read the story ‘Theodotus’, which told how three young men came to the hermit to ask for advice on how they could get rid of their vices. (...) I thought that it was in vain that the teacher had chosen such an unchildish story. One should have listened how the conversation of the class gradually brought the story down to the children’s understanding and how they gave examples and expressed the conviction that vices must be uprooted in childhood. The moral evoked by the mentor from the children themselves was so fresh that one girl cried loudly: it probably reminded her of some incident from her childhood life. (...)

At my request, the teacher showed me how to do writing exercises in the class. She read to the children a short but very graceful story from the best children’s book I had ever seen, talked to the children about it, and then the children started to write. The exercise was over very soon and, as a consequence of the conversation, each girl had a different way of telling the same story. Revising the notebooks, I was especially surprised by the accuracy and certainty of expression, spelling errors are few and handwriting is very good [14, p. 161-164].

Explanation: As can be seen from the proposed passage, an experienced and respected teacher sets different tasks for pupils gradually, carefully observing and accepting their physical and mental activity. Without making unnecessary efforts or giving unnecessary tasks, the teacher switches children from one task to another, from one activity to another. The teacher does not give the pupils too much effort, but rather achieves her goals in an intelligent way.

Result: In this pedagogical situation, we see a whole train of tasks linked together by a common line, flowing smoothly from one to the other. All the goals of this situation have been achieved, the students have reached a new level of understanding of the world, and the pedagogical event has taken place.

Discussion and conclusions

The given examples of pedagogical situations are highlighted on the basis of the possibility and ability of the pedagogical situation to reach a pedagogical problem, i.e. the possibility of achieving a pedagogical effect. From the description made on the basis of 50 examples (though we list here onle the two of them), we can see that all the presented situations have achieved their pedagogical effect, which means that the teacher has correctly formulated the goal, defined the task, thought about the situation, selected the right methods to solve the problem. The presented pedagogical situations turned from potential to actual, achieved their pedagogical effect and turned into the pedagogical event.

In this paper a pedagogical situation is presented as something from which an event can grow. From the classification proposed by the author, 1 type of pedagogical situations has been selected, namely those situations that have achieved their pedagogical goal, from which a pedagogical event has grown. A pedagogical event is presented as an event of reaching a pedagogical goal.


About the authors

Victoria V. Dobrova

Samara State Technical University

Author for correspondence.
Email: victoria_dob@mail.ru

Cand. Psych. Sci., Associate Professor, Head of Foreign Languages Department

Russian Federation, 224, Molodogvardeyskaya st., Samara, 443100


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