Research indicates that computer simulations as opposed to other media like print, video, film or lectures have a claimed primary advantage, which is, increased transfer of learning (Allessi. Trollip1985). Transfer of learning simply means the students having the ability to apply what they have learned during instructions level, to the real performance or a new situation.
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Simulations are assumed to boost transfer better than other media or books. However, this paper focuses on a particular area of simulation research, by the name fidelity, which has received a significant attention in relation to non computerized simulation.
This is a critical variable in general when it comes to design of simulations. Fidelity on the other hand, refers to how direct a simulation imitates reality. To elaborate further on this fact, transfers of learning in plane simulators have revealed that the initial training in simulators is more efficient as opposed to that of a real plane.
Many military preparation studies by means of mechanical simulators shows no difference at all, and if there is, then very little in transfer, or learning due to fidelity. Reviewed study on the motion fidelity in flight training found that it does not considerably affect learning.
While some other authors have concluded that fidelity motion was of some significance for experienced pilots and not for beginners. However, studies of fidelity in military school came to a conclusion that, there is no proof of learning discrepancy due to low fidelity.
Fidelity effects are largely dependent upon the learner’s instructional level. During the primary stages of learning, high fidelity illustration may confuse a learner due to the speedy representation of the compounded sequence.
The same circumstance may not be found challenging by the student who has advanced to a higher level of consolidated skill. Other theories for fidelity effects are related to the definition of fidelity and transfer.
The complexity of explanation result to the hypothesis like relationship of fidelity and learning is non linear and depends entirely upon instructional rank of the student. For high level fidelity the quantity of learning decreases.
It appears that we are facing a predicament when we narrow it down simulation design. Increased fidelity should increase transfer theoretically; this may hinder initial learning and again in turn slows down the transfer. Consequently decreasing fidelity can enhance initial learning, but what the students have learned may not necessarily be transferred to the application scenario if proved dissimilar.
My take in this is that, the solution to this problem lies in ascertaining proper level of fidelity based on current instructional level of the student. However the question I would ask is what mechanism of simulation should vary on fidelity, and, under what circumstance should it be so.
As a conclusion we realize that whilst simulation take lead as one of the most promising in regards to computer based instruction, there is still a whole lot more we still need to learn concerning their design.
Common sense may be in appropriate concerning the high value fidelity relating to instructions simulation. Since learning differ by fidelity, like the u-shaped curve that is overturned, it applies to the new student who is just starting, and as they advance they will indeed benefit from the rising fidelity.
Allessi, S. M. & Trollip, S, R (1985) Computer based instruction: Methods and Development. Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice Hall.