3 Fundamental “Rs” to a Winning Simulation Debrief

| Roxanne Blanford

A debrief presents a unique opportunity for a “purposeful, structured period of reflection, discussion, and feedback” (Riley, p.155).  A simulation debrief, in particular, encompasses certain fundamental components that guide learners towards obtaining important benefits from their simulation experiences.

Here, we'll explore three of these fundamentals: recollection, reflection, and review. 


Recollection grants the learner an opportunity to recall the simulation experience as he/she initially remembers it. The primary focus is on the recollection of actual events, as opposed to personal opinions, with an emphasis on objectivity.

During reflection, students explore the simulation experience from the inside out. With gentle guidance from the instructor, each learner gets to respond and react while dialoguing with, listening to, and learning from the group.

The review portion of a debrief is often centered on uncovering the motives behind actions, behaviors, and decisions. The facilitator may ask increasingly investigative questions for deeper assessment. If an audiovisual recording and playback system was used to capture the simulation scenario, then the oral review may advance to evolve into a learning intensive, video-supported debriefing session. 

The goals of debriefing are to look back on actions taken and engage in reflective conversations so understanding and transformative learning may occur.  An effective center management tool can facilitate a simulation debrief, turning the after-action review into the valuable and conducive learning session it is meant to be.

A successful debrief provides teams with an efficient way to learn and improve. You could say that a winning debrief accelerates learning and solidifies training.


What limitations are you experiencing with your current simulation management and debriefing system?

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