Why You Must Stimulate Critical Thinking - Don’t Kill it with Your Training
Traditional audio-visual slide-show presentations are useful information sharing tools. Yet, they are one-dimensional and rather boring and their ability to engage learners is under scrutiny.
"Through PowerPoint, everything has a tendency to resemble a pitch rather than a discussion: information is ‘storyboarded’, as for a movie – but the presentation is not a movie and the presenter is rarely Brad Pitt. No wonder we are bored." ~ Andrew Smith1
The alternative is simulation and scenario-based learning to make learning ‘come alive’.
Businesses no longer want employees to know repeatable facts. They want critical thinking skills.
Employees must learn to respond appropriately in the workplace.
Scenario-based learning can be defined as interactive learning activities in which students are presented with complex problem-based or case-based learning. Students must assess a life-like situation and make decisions to handle the case or resolve the problem.
Evans and Taylor define scenarios "as stories focused on a user or group of users, which would provide information on the nature of the users, the goals they want to achieve and the context in which the activities will take place."2
Scenario-based learning is valuable for effective on-the-job learning. Trainees must apply new skills to solve problems in context. Leaders can improve management skills and learn best practices to address difficult situations.
Complex branched scenarios are an effective tool for developing problem-solving skills. They test critical thinking and procedural memory.
Scenario-based educating offers benefits that traditional ‘chalk-and-talk’ or slideshow presentations cannot match:
Scenario-based learning provides optimal outcomes for the following goals:
Simulations mimic real-life scenarios to facilitate experiential learning. They are non-linear, and like scenario-based learning, they develop critical thinking skills. Simulations can be role-playing activities, games or any other task reflecting a real-life situation.
There might be more than one correct response, but one will be optimal. This may be a happy customer or a successful ordering procedure.
“The advantages of simulation-based educational interventions include the ability to provide immediate feedback, repetitive practice learning, the integration of simulation into the curriculum, the ability to adjust the difficulty level, opportunities to individualize learning, and the adaptability to diverse types of learning strategies.” 3
After a simulated experience, learners are often motivated to make suggestions. They often identify gaps in existing instruction. In contrast, after traditional presentations, lecturers have to coax trainees to give feedback.
Simulations incorporating 3D elements are visually engaging and can reduce the boredom and monotony of traditional teaching. The learning-by-doing approach can build learners’ confidence and encourage their creativity. They learn to make good decisions when faced with choices.
Designers may opt for low-fidelity or high-fidelity simulations. Low-fidelity simulations replicate the scenario but simplify it. For example, the technical skill of how to insert a needle is only a small part of what a nurse needs tutelage in. Research4 found that high-fidelity simulations are best for nursing education.
High-fidelity simulations aim for realistic representations of interactions, relationships and scenarios. They are vital when training is high risk or expensive. Examples are flight training for pilots, medical procedures or underground mining emergency procedures.
Simulator-based education is growing in popularity as a pedagogical approach. Organizations want students to practice their technical skills and develop critical thinking skills safely.
Real-life situational experiences help employees develop decision-making skills.
Instead of boring learners with facts, interactive simulations and scenario-based activities keeps learning "alive."