NLN/Jeffries Simulation Framework State of the Science Project: Simulation Design Characteristics



      In 2005, Jeffries published “A Framework for Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Simulations Used as Teaching Strategies in Nursing,” which described the major constructs that were proposed to be core to the design, implementation, and evaluation of the evolving methodology of simulation-based education. In 2010, the NLN/Jeffries Simulation Framework (NLN/JSF) project was launched to review the current state of the science in support of the framework. A panel of simulation experts was assembled to review the literature for each of the framework constructs. This report summarizes the findings for the Simulation Design Characteristics construct. Within this construct, five key subcomponents are identified: objectives, fidelity, problem solving, student support, and debriefing.


      Literature citations and findings were abstracted into a standardized database to summarize findings. Preliminary findings were presented during the 2012 Annual International Nursing Simulation/Learning Resource Centers conference where feedback and perspective from session participants were solicited. The project team summarized findings from the literature review and commentary as well as identified areas for future research with respect to Simulation Design Characteristics.


      The project team found wide variance in the volume and strength of the evidence in support of the construct and its subcomponents. There is a general lack of an identified theoretical framework underpinning the majority of empirical simulation literature. Constructs and their subcomponents were found to be described in a varying array of terms. Within the Simulation Design Characteristics construct, supporting evidence is the greatest for debriefing and the least for objectives and student support. The volume or strength of the evidence in the literature does not appear to be in proportion to the relevance of each component to the framework.


      Many of the concepts of the Simulation Design Characteristics appear to be widely discussed within the simulation community, even in the absence of significant volume and strength of supporting evidence. There is a need for standardization of terms and better description of constructs and methodologies reported in the simulation literature. There would appear to be numerous opportunities for future research to validate the role of Simulation Design Characteristics and learning outcomes. Utilizing and referencing the NLN/JSF in the design, implementation, and reporting of simulation instruction and research should bring better standardization and reproducibility to the process.


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