Evidence in Simulation-Based Learning Experiences: An Umbrella Review

A recent issue of Clinical simulation in Nursing featured an article about the evidence in simulation-based learning experiences (SBLE) in nursing education and practice. The proposed purpose of the paper was to examine the findings of an umbrella review to examine the state-of-the science in SBLE.

This umbrella review of the research provides an overall, broad picture of the research base in SBLE to highlights strengths of the strategy and identify gaps in the pedagogical research. The intended outcome of the umbrella review is to identify an agenda “for future research to enhance the rigor, depth, and breadth of the evidence base for SBLE” as a method of teaching.

Key Points from the Umbrella Review

    1. Four themes were identified:

      a) specific clinical practice area or learner
      b) learner outcomes/identified skill acquisition
      c) elements of simulation design
      d) simulation as pedagogy, or the method and practice of teaching

    2. Evidence exists of increased sophistication in the design methods of simulation studies, and of studies being focused on skill transfer to the practice setting, patient safety, and outcomes

    3. Three needs were revealed for simulation-based research:

      a) translational research
      b) measures of higher order thinking
      c) increased methodological rigor in research designs

Discussion and Conclusions

While this review recognizes the challenges and difficulties of the research, it also notes that “simulation as a pedagogy has not been used at the current level of fidelity for more than two decades…. [S]imulation is a young science.”

  • In nursing education, SBLE have the largest effect on cognitive and psychomotor outcomes.
  • SBLE allows participants to increase their awareness of and ability to notice elements of clinical encounters after simulation practice.
  • Literature is inconclusive about the transfer of critical thinking skills from simulation to clinical practice.
  • SBLE had the maximum benefit for senior nursing students and graduate students.
  • The reviews contain mixed evidence on the superiority of simulation to practice skills related to patient safely and medication administration.
  • Simulation is effective for cognitive and teamwork skills.
  • Although the evidence in simulation studies reveals areas for improved rigor and a focused agenda, these reviews also show positive outcomes for applying simulation.

    For the abstract and access to the full text of the article, visit Clinical Simulation in Nursing, The Evidence in Simulation-Based Learning Experience in Nursing Education and Practice: An Umbrella Review. For simulation-based educational solutions, visit www.pocketnurse.com.

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