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Immediate versus delayed feedback in simulation-based training: Matching feedback delivery timing to the cognitive demands of the training exercise

, University of Central Florida, United States

University of Central Florida . Awarded


Optimal delivery of instruction is both critical and challenging in dynamic, scenario-based training (SBT) computer simulations such as those used by the military. Tasks that human instructors must perform during these sorts of simulated training exercises can impose a heavy burden on them. Partially due to advances in the state-of-the-art in training technology and partially due to the military's desire to reduce the number of personnel required, it may be possible to support functions that overburdened instructors perform by automating much of the SBT process in a computer simulation. Unfortunately though, after more than 50 years of literature documenting research conducted in the area of training interventions, few empirically-supported guidelines have emerged to direct the choice and implementation of effective, automated training interventions.

The current study sought to provide empirical guidance for the optimal timing of feedback delivery (i.e., immediate vs. delayed) in a dynamic, SBT computer simulation. The premise of the investigation was that the demand for overall cognitive resources during the training exercise would prescribe the proper timing of feedback delivery. To test the hypotheses, 120 volunteers were randomly assigned to 10 experimental conditions. After familiarization on the experimental testbed, participants completed a total of seven, 10-minute scenarios, which were divided across two training phases. During each training phase participants would receive either immediate or delayed feedback and would perform either high or low cognitive load scenarios. Four subtask measures were recorded during test scenarios as well as subjective reports of mental demand, temporal demand and frustration. Instructional efficiency ratios were computed using both objective performance data and subjective reports of mental demand.

A series of planned comparisons were conducted to investigate the training effectiveness of differing scenario cognitive loads (low vs. high), timing of feedback delivery (immediate vs. delayed), and sequencing the timing of feedback delivery and the cognitive load of the scenario. In fact, the data did not support the hypotheses. Therefore, post hoc, exploratory data analyses were performed to determine if there were trends in the data that would inform future investigations. The results for these analyses are discussed with suggested directions for future research.


Bolton, A.E. Immediate versus delayed feedback in simulation-based training: Matching feedback delivery timing to the cognitive demands of the training exercise. Ph.D. thesis, University of Central Florida. Retrieved February 21, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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