Students' learning in theory-based simulation: A socio-material study

Engle Angela Chan, Betty Chung, Katherine Chang, Alison Hui, Anne Marie Rafferty

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Simulation-based education (SBE) is crucial to prepare nursing students prior to their clinical learning experience. Theory-based simulation learning is increasingly important for analysing how students learn. This study describes and analyses how nursing students learn through simulation in the context of palliative care communication under a socio-material approach and explores the transfer of their knowledge and skills from simulation to clinical practice. Methods: Twenty-seven final-year nursing students in six groups participated in two simulated scenarios, followed by a debriefing and post-clinical focus groups to capture their reflections and learning. Fourteen of them joined the post-clinical focus groups after completing their clinical placements. Video recordings of the simulation, and the audio recordings from the debriefing, and post-clinical focus groups were transcribed and coded based on the human and non-human elements that were observed. These were triangulated with data collected through team participant observations, an analysis of the existing syllabi and curriculum, and a participant mapping exercise after the simulation. These various data sources illustrate how student learning and reflections took place. Results: The three themes of student learning derived from the results and analysis were (1) students' expanded learning of health care communication through a socio-material approach in the context of palliative care; 2) students' discovery of the diverse and complex relations and interactions between humans and materials and (3) students' new perspectives on health care communication and the transfer of knowledge and skills through a socio-material approach in clinical practice. Conclusions: This study highlights how SBE can be further expanded using a socio-material approach to prepare students to learn beyond standardised and cognitively driven approaches and procedures. Student learning demonstrates that SBE may develop beyond high fidelity and standardisation to leave room for emergent learning and increased awareness in learning for students and teachers to optimise learning outcomes and competence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalMedical Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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