Towards a Hierarchy of Learning Situations
Anne-Sophie Nyssen, PhD University of Liege - Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences Work Psychology Department - bd. du Rectorat, 5 - B32 B - 4000 Liege( Belgium) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The use of very realistic, "high-fidelity" simulators for training is becoming more and more widespread in industrial environments. Civil and military aviation are not the only areas that benefit from this technology. The Navy, the Army, and the areas of space exploration and nuclear energy have also developed simulators. They are generally called upon in high-risk sectors where it is not possible to resort to training by direct execution of the task. This impossibility can be due to deontological reasons (security and safety), economic reasons (the material cost and the cost of errors), or technical reasons (the very weak probability of certain incidents).
In medicine, especially in anaesthesia, simulation is an emerging field. Its major purpose is to rehearse management of both frequently occurring and rare events during anaesthesia. Although common sense makes us believe that simulators can be useful in training and teaching, hard evidence to support this assumption is not available. Will the use of simulators be better than the current methods of training? Do the perceived advantages of such systems necessarily translate to more effective human performance? How do the simulators preserve the syntax and the semantics of naturalistic situations? This is the core of a debate on ecologicalvalidity, crucial for methodological, safety and economical reasons. Eyrolles, Marine & Mailles ( 1996) have distinguished different types of simulators with respect to the characteristics of the reference situation and to the control task requirements - active versus passive, static versus dynamic, interactive versus non interactive, realistic versus partial. But this typology has not been related to empirical data on operators performance and training efficacy. Several authors have emphasized the major role played by the instructor in the training process ( Nyssen& De Keyser, 1998). In this current, Samurçayand Rogalski ( 1998) have described the simulation situation as a