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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Jens Beckmann

Wood, R.E., Beckmann, J.F. & Birney, D.P. (2009). Simulations, learning and real world capabilities. Education + Training 51(5/6): 491-510.

Author(s) from Durham


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider how simulations are increasingly used in training programs for the development of skills such as leadership. However, the requirements of leadership development go beyond the development of task specific procedural knowledge or expertise that simulations have typically been used to develop. Leadership requires flexibility in the application of knowledge developed through simulations and the creation of linkages to behavioral execution skills needed to utilize that knowledge effectively in real world settings.

Design/methodology/approach – The successful acquisition of flexible expertise and the related execution skills requires instructional techniques that manage cognitive load, delay automatization of responses, and provide diversity in simulated experiences to ensure richness of the mental models developed while working on simulations. The successful transfer of that knowledge to real world settings requires supplemental instructional techniques that link the use of the mental models developed on simulations to the contexts and behavioral requirements of the trainees' roles in real world settings.

Findings – If simulations are going to be used effectively for the development of dynamic skills such as leadership there is a need to go beyond their traditional use. The execution of leadership skills requires flexible expertise. The successful acquisition of rich schemata and versatile mental models as the goal of leadership development programs calls for instructional techniques that also facilitate the successful manifestation of flexible expertise.

Originality/value – The paper shows that, when embedded in deliberative processing, application of knowledge developed though simulations and the creation of linkages to behavioral execution skills facilitates successful performance in complex and dynamic real world challenges.