Disrupting the familiar: applying educational theories to simulation-based learning and assessment design

Irwyn Shepherd, Elyssebeth Leigh, Amanda Davies

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOtherpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    As a practice-oriented, experience-based approach to education, simulation is sometimes accused of lacking educational theory, and susceptible to questions about validity. Lewin [1] asserts that ‘there is nothing so practical as good theory’ and we propose, conversely in regard simulation, that ‘there is nothing so theoretical as good practice’. We introduce the ADELIS© model for learning design, to illustrate a means for disrupting the ‘theory versus practice’ debate by focusing attention on how to demonstrate that sound educational theory underlies simulation practice. The ADELIS© model invites theorists to recognize the urgency of pragmatic needs to enact learning, and asks practitioners to engage with the value and validity of using a researcher’s ‘long view’ to examine and improve learning outcomes. The recurring inability of theory and practice to bridge the gap between them is a ‘wicked’ problem [2], and as such is in the Cynefin Domain of ‘Complex’ knowledge [3]. Addressing such problems involves unique responses for specific contexts, paying attention to what is required for effective working in this Domain develops a capacity for handling uncertainty and managing complexity familiar terrain for education designers. Successful use of simulation in learning contexts occurs even when there is no obvious link between practice and theories of learning [4]. Using the ADELIS© model for learning design supports theoretically well-formed good practice in simulation design and application. Outcomes include effective learning programs, well informed applications of theory to practice, and assessment strategies enabling educators to track the results well beyond immediate learning experiences [5]. This paper uses cases to demonstrate how theory and practice can collaborate, with positive impacts on educational design.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIntersections in Simulation and Gaming: Disruption and Balance
    Subtitle of host publicationThird Australasian Simulation Congress, ASC 2019 Gold Coast, Australia, September 2–5, 2019 Proceedings
    EditorsAnjum Naweed, Lorelle Bowditch, Cyle Sprick
    Place of PublicationSingapore Singapore
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9789813295827
    ISBN (Print)9789813295810
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2019
    EventAustralasian Simulation Congress 2019 - Gold Coast, Australia
    Duration: 2 Sept 20195 Sept 2019
    Conference number: 3rd

    Publication series

    NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
    ISSN (Print)1865-0929
    ISSN (Electronic)1865-0937


    ConferenceAustralasian Simulation Congress 2019
    Abbreviated titleASC 2019
    CityGold Coast


    • Simulation
    • Theories of education
    • Theory versus practice

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