Our Research | Simulated Practice Environment

The last three decades have seen rapidly increasing use of simulated practice and simulated austere clinical environments (SPACE) to develop, integrate, assess and provide reflective opportunities for healthcare students and practitioners when constructing their professional knowledge, clinical skills and team working skills.

Within HERG we are actively engaged in the research, design, development and evaluation of the spectrum of virtual, high-fidelity and austere simulated clinical environments. This activity focuses on both discrete simulation-environment based performance outcomes and on the interactions and relationships between simulation-mediated activity and performance outcomes manifested in the other HERG domains.

Research Projects

The Clinical Simulation Centre

The Clinical Simulation Centre is employed as a medium within which learners are ‘immersed’ and experience phased adaptation and enculturation to rapidly evolving healthcare systems and to austere, unpredictable, unsupported and hostile healthcare environments. Our ‘Target Model’ of immersive, adaptive and enculturation activity is based on constructivist and situated learning theories and further informed by Gulikers’ 5-Dimensional Framework for Authentic Learning and Assessment.

Safety in numbers

safeMedicate is an e-learning solution for developing and assessing competence for safe drug calculations. It uses real world features and expert real world practice to link with the maths used to solve dosage calculation problems and transform care. Read more.

Primary PhD research undertaken by Dr Keith Weeks (1992-2000), initially focused on a four year ethnographic study (1992-1995) based in clinical and education practice. This exposed and framed the problem of nursing students experiencing misconceptions of medication dosage problems related to use of didactic transmission methods of education and calculation problems related to mathematical ‘dropped stitches’ (Weeks et al 2000). Phases 2, 3 and 4 (1996-2000) centered on the design, development and evaluation of a prototype virtual learning and assessment environment designed to support the construction and application of medication dosage calculation problem-solving skills (Weeks et al 2001; Weeks 2006; Weeks 2007).

Following successful PhD evaluation and peer review, Glamorgan and Cardiff Universities collaborated in the knowledge and technology transfer process to exploit the intellectual property underpinning the prototype virtual environment design. This resulted in the development of a commercially viable version of the programme that was subsequently marketed through Glamorgan and Cardiff University’s spin-out company Authentic World Ltd.

Launched in 2004, the company co-led by Dr Keith Weeks (Research & Design Director) and Norman Woolley (CEO) has engaged in significant post-doctorate research and development activity to substantially advance its portfolio of web-based virtual environments and to inform the international community within this domain of education and clinical practice.

Currently, we are:

  • Following a collaborative programme of research and development commissioned by NHS Education for Scotland, the internal reliability and criterion related validity of a new Authentic World Authentic Assessment program was demonstrated. Subsequently the emergent Authentic World / NES medication dosage competency model and rubric informed the Nursing & Midwifery Council, pre-registration nursing, Essential Skills Cluster framework within the medicines management domain.
  • The Authentic World essential skills suite of programs are being used by 52% of UK universities offering nursing and healthcare programmes and by an increasing number of NHS Health Boards and PCT’s.
  • Following a programme of international research with Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA (Clochesy 2008) and collaboration with Authentic World Ltd’s international partner, Medical Education Technologies Incorporated (METI) the Authentic World essential and advanced skills suite of programs was launched in the USA and Canada in 2008. This collaboration has brought the number of healthcare students and practitioners using the programs worldwide to in excess of 60,000 users.
  • Authentic World Ltd collaborates with researchers and expert clinical practitioners to continually research, design, develop and evaluate virtual learning and diagnostic assessment environments. A series of seminars are planned to explore and evaluate the Authentic World Ltd experience and to support researchers planning to, or currently engaging within the field of virtual environment research, design and development.