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Exploring Group Pragmatic Analysis, a practice analysis technique

door Camille POIRAUD
Taal: EN
Document available also in: FR DE CS

[Translation French - English : EPALE France

Author : Carine Margerie - Lemay]

The manager of training systems in an adult training centre for four years, I have been undergoing continuous training in SIFA (Strategy and Engineering in Adult Learning) at the University of Tours since October 2018. Today, EPALE has invited me to share the surprising and valuable training experience which I enjoyed as a student during Semester 9, on choosing the GAEP (Professional Experience Analysis Group) option.

Noël Denoyel, lecturer at the University of Tours, initiated our group of twelve students into the technique he devised and entitled Group Pragmatic Analysis. Its originality lies in combining the professional practice analysis group with that of the Théâtre Forum, created and developed by Augusto Boal.

Working in pairs, we began by explaining a professional situation which had presented a problem to our partners. This is known as the initial self-confrontation. The self-confrontation was then presented to the rest of the group by the listening partner, as if he himself had experienced the situation.

A phase of questioning by other group members then took place, to clarify the situation so as to understand it more clearly.

The group then collectively chose four of the situations which had been presented to work on them during a first phase, in sub-groups of three people, to prepare sketches of the situations in the way they had been experienced. The second phase took place with the whole group, where the sketches were acted out by the three members, including the person who had actually experienced the situation; the rest of the group were spectators. The sketches were re-enacted over and again, taking account of suggestions offered by the spectators, until a favourable solution to the original problem situation was found. in this way, the person who had experienced the situation could find himself a spectator of his own story, enacted by someone else, suggesting a different way of behaving or speaking so as to change the course of the original situation.

Through its implementation, the technique of Group Pragmatic Analysis, going beyond analysing the experience, led to the development of individual and collective skills:

Interrogative skill (Jacques, 2000)




In order better to understand the situations described, we experimented with ways of questioning, leading us to differentiate between three types of question:

'first order' questions, to gain a better understanding of the narrator's story;
'second order' questions, to clarify the story;
'third order' questions, designed to discuss or debate the story.

Only first order questions were permitted, so we had to ask ourselves beforehand which type of question we were going to put. In addition, according to Noël Denoyel (2015), "interrogative skill [...] works when it is itself questioned, allowing focus on the content, openness to deliberation, accepting comments and being assertive. It is true learning".


Deliberation skill

In Group Pragmatic Analysis, there is a phase of situation analysis, with neither interpretation nor judgement, the object being to transform the experience and then collectively to find ethical strategies to resolve a situation which has posed a problem. According to Noël Denoyel (2015), "Aristotle described the importance of the ability to deliberate [...] on the course of an action, and showed that it is the consideration of each person's critical intelligence in our deliberations which constructs the singularity of the action."


Theatrical skill

In the theatre forum, the players/actors bring the characters and situation to life, in line with an original problematic situation. They then replayed it, using the proposals put forward, adapting it as best they could to the original situation, until they achieved the final goal of a favourable outcome for all the protagonists involved in the action.


Collective skill

Practice analysis groups, regardless of the technique used, effectively develop training courses through discussions on professional practices with those involved in other posts, with people in similar positions in other companies or with colleagues. According to Guy Le Boterf (2000), collective skill consists of "[…] knowing how to develop shared representations, knowing how to communicate, knowing how to cooperate and knowing how to learn collectively from experience […]". Collective work allows the creation of a space for the co-interpretation of work situations, and of mutual understanding.   The GAEP workshop has opened up a space so that experience can be thought about collectively. It has allowed us to recognise the diversity of ways of seeing, speaking and interpreting.


Skill of ensuring collective activity

The analysis that each participant makes of the situation, the sharing of these analyses and the consideration of the proposed actions derive from their interaction. Developments will arise for each proposal, and will bring the group step by step towards a final solution which suits all the protagonists in the situation. It's all about maintaining collective activity until the group reaches a strategy which is a positive outcome, while respecting each member's ethics.


The experience of the Pragmatic Analysis Group proved to be very powerful, both individually and collectively.

If you want to learn more about this technique, Noël Denoyel explains it in Education Permanente No. 163/2005-2, in the appendix to his article entitled L’alternance structurée comme un dialogue-Pour une alternance dialogique (Alternance structured as Dialogue-For Dialogic Alternance).



EPALE Ambassador, SIFA MA, University of Tours

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