Recently, a client asked me a most surprising question: “Can DecisionSim be used for assessment?” Why was that so surprising? Over the last year, most of my work has involved helping develop simulations for assessment alone or a combination of assessment and training. Based upon that, it surprised me that some clients don’t realize that DecisionSim is a great measurement and research tool.
In fact, I think one of the most powerful aspects of DecisionSim is something we have been calling Insight3. That is, DecisionSim provides insights not only for learners but also for authors and for institutions as well.
When we design simulations that empower learners to explore a problem, decide how to solve the problem, and then observe the outcome, we are guiding them to discover their own insights. This approach is much more likely to lead learners to lasting change, since they are discovering knowledge on their own (Rock, 2009)—rather than us simply telling them they are wrong and informing them of the “correct” response.
For authors and organizations, DecisionSim can provide robust data about the choices learners make in the simulation. As learners progress through the simulation, every choice they select, and every word they type, is recorded as data. After learners complete the simulation, authors can review those data and discover their own insights about learners’ current thought process, gaps in their knowledge, and any learning gains they may have achieved between instructional events. So, DecisionSim can help authors, and institutions, come to their own insights about their learners.
Here are just a few examples of recent simulations that use DecisionSim to capture and analyze data about their learners.
- A surgical decision making simulation is being developed to gather and share opinions about best practice for a complex patient who presents with a recurrent hernia. Rather than simply presenting a “best decision,” this simulation gathers the opinions of the surgeons who complete the simulation and then shares the opinions of the 24 surgeons who are serving as subject matter experts. This way, the simulation is creating and sharing new knowledge about how best to treat patients with complex conditions.
- In another project, two simulations are used to assess and train emergency department physicians on the diagnosis and treatment of patients who present with dizziness. In the first simulation, learners are first assessed on the accuracy of their diagnosis, their test utilization, and their disposition decision. After receiving personalized feedback upon their choices, learners then receive training within the simulation. Several months later, learners take the second simulation to measure retention.