Center for Immersive and Simulation-based Learning

Tasks and Skills

Types of Learning - Tasks & Skills

Health care is not an abstract “ivory tower” activity. It involves the very real hands-on physical interaction of clinicians with patients. Much of patient care requires the skilled conduct of technical procedures. Whether as simple as performing an eye examination, or drawing blood, or as complex as performing laparoscopic surgery or placing a stent in clogged blood vessel, a high skill level is important. No one is “born” knowing how to do these tasks, or the many other procedures needed in healthcare; the skill for such tasks is only learned by practice. Simulation techniques can play an important role in providing this practice in a systematic and optimized way, without any risk to real patients.

Types of Learning - Tasks & Skills

Acquiring skill at procedural tasks is of great importance for early learners – students or interns and residents – but is also important for experienced personnel who need practice at new procedures as they are introduced, or with existing tasks and procedures that are not performed frequently.

Honing one’s skills at tasks and procedures can be enhanced when the performance on them can be measured using various “metrics” such as time on task, error rate, or coordination. Such metrics may eventually allow the formative assessment of learners as they progress in skill and the establishment of benchmarks of achievement for both inexperienced and experienced personnel alike.

Types of Learning - Tasks & Skills

Different sorts of tasks and skills can be simulated using different kinds of immersive and simulation modalities. For example, “standardized patients” are actors trained to present with the story and symptoms of specific diseases; “part-task” physical trainers reproduce the key portions of a procedure; full simulators integrate physical procedures with decision making and teamwork. The use of an appropriate mix of these devices can optimize learning and maintenance of skill for users at all levels of experience.


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