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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Jens Beckmann

Beckmann, N., Beckmann, J.F., Birney, D. P. & Wood, R. E. (2015). A problem shared is learning doubled: Deliberative processing in dyads improves learning in complex dynamic decision-making tasks. Computers in Human Behaviour 48: 654-662.

Author(s) from Durham


Whilst micro-worlds or simulations have increasingly been used in higher education settings, students do not always benefit as expected from these learning opportunities. By using an experimental-control group design we tested the effectiveness of structuring the task environment so as to encourage learners to approach simulations more systematically. Seventy-one professionals who participated in a postgraduate-level management program worked on a management simulation either individually (n = 35) or in dyads (n = 36) while exploring the simulation (exploration phase). Peer interactions in the shared learning condition were structured so that learners were encouraged to employ hypothesis testing strategies. All participants then completed the simulation again individually so as to demonstrate what they had learned (performance phase). Baseline measures of cognitive ability and personality were also collected. Learners who explored the simulation in the shared learning condition outperformed their counterparts who explored the simulation individually. A simple manipulation of the way learners interacted with the simulation facilitated learning. Improved deliberation is discussed as a potential cause of this effect, preliminary evidence is provided. This study lends further evidence that the effectiveness of learning using simulations is co-determined by characteristics of the learning environment.