Simulation can provide a realistic environment in which to observe and assess student performance. A variety of assessment tools are available to support observation using simulation, including checklists, global rating scales, observation guides and structured debriefing. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of tool should be based on the specific learning objectives for the simulation session.
Checklists are often used to assess basic technical skills, such as handwashing or equipment setup. They are easy to use and can be completed quickly, making them ideal for high-volume simulated experiences such as mass casualty drills. However, checklists may not capture more complex aspects of student performance, such as decision-making or team communication.
Global rating scales are another common assessment tool for simulation. These scales allow observers to rate a learner’s overall performance on a specific task or scenario. They are often used in conjunction with checklists to provide a more comprehensive assessment of student performance. However, global rating scales can be subject to observer bias, and it can be difficult to compare ratings across different learners.
Observation guides should be used as a way to focus observations and should not be used as a means of recording every single detail of the simulation.
Structured debriefing is a process in which the learner and observer(s) reflect on the simulation experience together. This type of debriefing can be beneficial in helping the learner to identify areas of improvement and develop a plan for addressing them. However, structured debriefing can be time-consuming, and it may not be feasible to use this approach for large-scale simulations.
The information collected through an effective assessment tool can then be used to help inform instructional decision-making. Additionally, using simulation for assessment can help reduce bias in evaluations, as it allows all students to be assessed on an equal footing. Therefore, simulation should be considered as a possible assessment tool to support observation in order to improve student learning outcomes.
It is also important to note that assessment tools should not be used in isolation, but rather should be used in conjunction with other methods of assessment such as debriefing and post-simulation discussion. By using a variety of assessment methods, educators can more accurately identify areas of strengths and weaknesses for individual students.
The choice of assessment tool should be based on the specific learning objectives for the simulation session. Checklists, global rating scales, and structured debriefing are all valid options for assessing student performance in simulation. The most appropriate tool for a given simulation will depend on the nature of the task or scenario being simulated, the number of learners participating, and the time available for debriefing.