Much has been developed, researched and written about the power of high fidelity simulations (especially in defense and healthcare) and their ability to provide far more effective training outcomes and better measurability of performance. And I will include Serious Games as well in the same context. I think it is perhaps a good time to raise a few questions.
Firstly, are simulations (and/or serious games) more suited for assessing performance than traditional paper/pencil or online tests? If yes, does this apply uniformly across all subjects/domains or are these particularly suited for certain types of assessments?
Secondly, what are the essential attributes of such simulation or game based assessments? What are the criteria upon which a simulation or game may be said to reliably, accurately and efficiently assess a student’s performance?
Thirdly, what are the more accessible ways in which such simulations or games can be developed? Learning implements like Multiple Choice or Drag and Drop questions are fairly quick and easy to design and develop, and there are a host of tools around that make the development process fairly rapid. But assessments based on simulations and games may take up too much time and the effort to develop them rises exponentially as the number of variables increase.
Fourthly, what kind of features in a simulation are required in order for the simulation to be more effective as compared to traditional alternatives? Are there techniques, like perhaps adaptive testing, that can be applied to simulation based assessments?
Fifthly, what evidence can be reliably obtained to show that simulations can indeed assess performance reliably?
I may be missing other questions, but the intent is to try to understand how simulation based assessments can be brought into the mainstream education, if indeed they can be proven a reliable and accessible alternative to traditional techniques. It will bring the fun back into taking exams for millions of schoolchildren. That itself should be motivation enough for us to research the space!