is sometimes used even though deliberate departures from fidelity can, in some cases, enhance training effectiveness (Hettinger et al., 1985; Hays and Singer, 1989). The underlying issues are the adequacy of the understanding of human performance and application of education and training principles.
There is great variability in the physical capabilities of ship-bridge simulators. For example, computer-based, full-mission and multi-task ship-bridge simulators vary by: (1) the technical state of practice when simulators are installed or upgraded; and (2) scale, from small through large ship-bridge configurations. Given this variability, it is useful to think in terms of levels of simulation for a given simulator's various physical components (Figure 4-1). Levels of simulation can serve as a technical frame of reference for a subjective assessment of the component's relevance and performance capabilities relative to the training program's instructional objectives.
A simulator may have particularly strong capabilities in some areas and be weak in others. To select the appropriate training platform, it is important to determine which strengths and weaknesses are relevant to training objectives. In some cases, the simulator strengths and weaknesses may not be apparent from a visible inspection or demonstration.
Each simulator element is important, but their relative importance depends on training objectives. Some equipment is more important to certain functions, duties, or operations than others. Relative importance also depends on the fidelity of details needed to ensure that erroneous or misleading information is not conveyed. Deliberate departures from fidelity need to be clearly understood by all involved. These considerations need to be addressed to avoid the creation of erroneous insights that could potentially affect real-world performance.
The relative importance also depends on the degree of accuracy (including completeness of the visual scene and functionality of the ship-bridge and bridge equipment) needed for credibility with trainees. Pilots, for example, typically expect a higher degree of fidelity and realism than do maritime academy cadets.
Perception of realism is another important consideration (Hays and Singer, 1989). The sequence and manner in which simulation components are introduced to trainees can profoundly affect their perception of the training environment as a real life operating environment. For example, the first ship-bridge simulator component that trainees experience is the bridge or wheelhouse mockup. To ensure an adequate perception of realism, the mockup needs to be believable so that the trainee and, for that matter, the instructor think ''real" ship.