Simulation-Based Research

Welcome to our Simulation-Based Research page, where we explore the transformative impact of simulation-based research on education, particularly for school administrators, teachers, and educational leaders. At SchoolSims, we have witnessed our clients delve into critical topics, leveraging our simulations to gain insights and contribute to academic discourse. This collection showcases research papers and studies born out of these simulations, reflecting the innovative ways simulations are utilized in education. From addressing contentious issues in teacher education to exploring the use of mixed reality simulations and assessing the impact on participant success, these research endeavors provide valuable perspectives on the advantages of simulation-based learning. Join us in navigating the dynamic landscape of educational research and discover how simulations shape the future of teaching methodologies and decision-making in educational leadership.

SchoolSims Annual Report

At SchoolSims, we remain committed to providing innovative tools to enhance the learning experience and facilitate educator growth. SchoolSims simulations have transformed education by providing experiential learning experiences that enhance educators’ understanding of complex concepts and real-world scenarios. The SchoolSims Annual Report offers valuable insights into the company’s growth, innovation, and the measurable effectiveness of its simulation-based educational solutions in fostering more profound learning outcomes.

Contending With Controversy: Using a Decision-Based Simulation for Preservice Teacher Education on Addressing Challenged Books

This paper shares an innovative use of an online decision-based simulation to help preservice teachers examine contentious issues, such as challenged books in elementary and middle school classrooms. Challenged books, particularly those around gender diversity topics, can be contentious as well as emotionally laden. The online simulation that uses a combination of recorded actors, writing exercises, and various decision paths requires the preservice teachers to contend with multiple stakeholders and various priorities in a rich sociocultural context. The teacher educators share key strengths of this use that include using a mistake-friendly learning environment, replaying the simulation multiple times to connect decisions with consequences, and engaging in a complex, nuanced, and responsive learning context. This article provides an overview of the simulation and what was found to be useful when using simulations to address contentious topics.

Published by Gretchen McAllister & Hoda Harati

What Does Advocacy and Persuasive Writing Have to Do With Finding Common Ground (In the Age of Social Media and the 24 Hour News Cycle)?

Ashland University Professional Learning Services provides the Ashland Leadership Academy Seminars (ALAS) for educational leaders in the field and offers the opportunity to earn three graduate credits from Ashland University. The 2023 Academy included a book study and discussion with Dr. Rick Hess and Dr. Pedro Noguera about their book, A Search for Common Ground. In addition, ALAS provided educational leaders with the experience of the SchoolSims simulation: Difficult Conversations – Race.

Mike Molnar, Superintendent from Amherst Exempted Village Schools, has been a consistent Academy participant and applied the ALAS three weekend experience to the required paper prompt, “What does advocacy and persuasive writing have to do with finding common ground?”

In the role of Superintendent, leaders are often tasked with making difficult decisions that can have significant impacts on the communities they serve. In some cases, those decisions can lead to community unity or community crises that require careful communication and community outreach. In every case, the Superintendent’s goal is to create a message that is persuasively advocating for a position that finds common ground, especially in polarizing situations where there are two sides to the situation.

Mixed Reality Simulation in Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States

Ashley Ireland, Ed.D., Loyola Marymount University, Affiliate Faculty and Instructional Director, Simulated Learning | Department of Teaching and Learning

The purpose of this study was to investigate:

  • How Mixed Reality Simulation is being used in teacher preparation programs in the United States
  • How the leaders of MRS perceive the technology for teacher preparation

All students deserve highly skilled and well prepared teachers. Although practice is a vital component of teacher preparation, it is often difficult to provide to preservice teachers meaningful opportunities for practice during their preparation. MRS is a technology that provides valuable rehearsal experiences for students. Though the technology is promising, it is not widely used. As of 2021, MRS can only be found in 52 of the approximately 1,200 U.S. teacher preparation programs in the U.S. Little is known about how the programs are using MRS to train teachers.

Impact Review of Simulations on Participant Success

Alma Advisory Group (Alma) conducted an Impact Review of SIMs for SchoolSims. The Impact Review was designed to capture feedback and impressions on the utility of SIMs by conducting interviews and surveys with select user groups identified by SchoolSims to be the most experienced SIMs users. The results of the Impact Review presented in this report summarize:

  • How the SIMs fit into the overall context of professional development programs for school leaders;
  • How SIMs are deployed in the specific user group contexts; and
  • How user groups have utilized the SIMs to date in order understand their efficacy vis- à-vis the professional development objectives of each user group.
Educational Leadership Simulations: Learning Lessons from Behind the Curtain of Educational Leadership

Simulations have long been used for military and medical training. More recently educational simulations have evolved for training teachers and for gaming used as a tool to engage students in learning. Only recently have educational simulations been available to train school leaders who have increased demands on them to lead schools and to improve test scores. Educational leaders must be versed in a variety of managerial and instructional skills that are supremely difficult to develop in any degree or certification program. The researchers in this study used educational simulations to support graduate instruction in two different principal and superintendent preparation programs. Participants were surveyed after participating in four or more educational simulations. The study uncovered a unanimously positive perception from participants regarding their preparedness for leadership and ability to meet graduate course objectives utilizing the educational simulations. Overall, the participants reported increased confidence to handle real-life situations after engaging in the simulations, more engagement in graduate courses and a deeper perspective to think critically about issues they will be presented with in the field. Data from participants in the study provide real insights to principal preparation programs, aspiring school leaders, and districts interested in further training their current leaders.

Published by David DeJong, Ed.D. & Trent Grundmeyer, Ph.D.

Perceptions of Aspiring School Leaders: Scenario-based Simulations and Their Impact on School Principal Efficacy

Two overlapping trends in the U.S. educational environment have given rise to this study: the changes in the demands placed on school principals over the past decade (Hess & Kelly, 2005; Davis, Darling-Hammond, LaPointe, & Meyerson, 2005; National Association of Secondary School Principals & National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2013; Tucker & Codding, 2002) and the surge in school principals feeling underprepared for these new demands (Farkas, Johnson, & Duffett, 2003; School Leaders Network, 2014). Meanwhile, the standards that govern principal preparation have evolved to provide more realistic expectations for preparing aspiring school principals. Preservice training for principals should include training to meet these more realistic standards (Mitgang & Gill, 2012). Scenario-based simulations offer new ways for training to be offered, with major outcomes being candidates gaining a sense of self-efficacy (confidence in their competence) in more rapidly using the simulator compared to traditional preparation classes and related activities (Christensen, Knezek, Tyler-Wood, & Gibson, 2014; Liaw et al., 2016; Spero, 2012). In this qualitative study of eight aspiring school leaders in a small liberal arts college in the Northeast, data were collected from participants to show perceptions simulations had on their sense of self-efficacy as aspiring principals and their confidence in meeting the Professional Standards for Educational Leadership (PSEL). This study found significant qualitative results highlighting a positive relationship between the use of these simulations and the variables of principal self-efficacy and confidence in the PSEL

Please reach out for more information on this research.

Simulations for the Learning of Decision Making in Educational Leadership in the Context of the Chilean School System

This article describes the process of designing and creating six computer-based simulations for school leadership training programs, in the context of the Chilean school system. For the design and construction of the simulations, six scenarios were selected from case analysis of principals with formal training and experience in different contexts. These scenarios were turned into stories with decision branches, and scores were assigned to the decision-making events according to national and international leadership standards. Finally, the scenarios were coded and installed onto a platform, which was adapted to capture quantitative and qualitative data. The simulations were applied to principals and candidates for school leadership positions. The process of creating and implementing the simulations demonstrated that it is possible to introduce a tool specifically designed to improve the decision-making abilities of school principals and leaders, replicating the Chilean educational context. This is a step forward in efforts to facilitate learning experiences based on decision-making situations contextualised and relevant to the training of school leaders. Finally, the use of computer-based simulations has great potential to scale the exchange of knowledge and make it universally accessible as a complement to other training opportunities in the careers of school leaders.

Using Simulations To Develop Decision-Making Capacity In Aspiring Leaders In K-12 Schools

The purpose of this study is to determine if the use of authentic, problem-based leadership simulations fosters measurable growth of decision-making in an aspiring school leader. Auburn University conducted this research by having one Master’s Degree Program cohorts complete three simulations while the other cohort did not complete any. The results concluded that those in the program who completed the simulations noticed they:

  • Prompted thinking before decision making
  • Taught that every decision has a consequence
  • Emphasized the importance of fact-finding & wait time in decision making
  • Created a safe environment in which to make mistakes and see the consequences played out
Using Linguistically, Culturally, and Situationally Appropriate Scenarios to Support Real-World Remembering

Retrieval practice is even more powerful when it utilizes realistic situations that learners will face on the job. When decision-making scenarios simulate future workplace situations, learners are more likely to be reminded of what they previously learned. If you look at the retrieval example and the accompanying diagrams on the previous page, you’ll see how the retrieval process works. Learners are presented with cues, and those cues trigger memory retrieval. When cues reliably trigger retrieval, we say that our learners can remember what they learned.

Provide Experiential Learning Opportunities For Your Schools Using SchoolSims