training and performance evaluations. The agency currently requires radar observer certification which uses radar simulators as the training medium. Movement toward using simulators, including desktop simulators, in marine licensing was recommended by an internal USCG focus group to provide a competency-based, rather than knowledge-based, license process (Anderson et al., 1993).

There is a growing belief that it might possible to more accurately and completely assess a license applicant's ability to apply knowledge and skills for some tasks using desktop simulators rather than multiple-choice written examinations. If desktop simulators prove to be feasible, practical, and suitable with respect to training or licensing objectives for broad application in the professional development process, the reduced cost could potentially lead to wider availability of simulator-based training, performance evaluations, and licensing. Such a development would constitute a substantial change relative to the current practice of multiple-choice written examinations (ECO, 1987).

ASSESSMENT FACTORS

The following topics should be considered in determining the suitability of desktop simulations:

  • the technical and instructional state of practice in microcomputer desktop simulators;
  • the research and development basis for using microcomputer simulations in marine training and licensing;
  • the possible use and applications of instructional design process;
  • the training potential of microcomputer desktop simulators, including the ability to produce user behavior that would occur during actual operations and the potential for developing and retaining knowledge and skills;
  • the changes to marine licensing recommended by the internal USCG study group relative to microcomputer simulations (Anderson et al., 1993);
  • the potential of microcomputer simulators for reinforcing skills between scheduled, structured training courses;
  • the quality of learning in controlled and self-instruction training environments;
  • simulator evaluation methods and their applicability;
  • diagnostic capabilities of simulators;
  • characterization of trainee populations, tasks, and functions for which microcomputer simulator applications may be suitable;
  • suitability for use for direct or indirect support of actual operations;
  • need for simulator and simulation validation;
  • ability of the simulator to be user-friendly; and
  • cost effectiveness.


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