Experiential learning and cognitive tools: The impact of simulations on conceptual change in continuing healthcare education

Thomas C. Reeves, Patricia M. Reeves, Susan E. McKenney

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    Conceptual change involves the acquisition of new cognitive resources (e.g., mental models) for thinking, problem solving, and decision making. Conceptual change, especially the development of robust mental models related to complex phenomena, is essential in continuing healthcare education (including medicine, nursing, public health, and social work). Jonassen’s work related to mindtools (also known as cognitive tools) and conceptual change has been influential in the development of interactive simulations designed to foster experiential learning opportunities for healthcare professionals. Experiential learning results when people engage in purposeful reflection about their experiences. The experiences that foster the kind of reflection and meaning making necessary for new conceptual change can occur in the real world (e.g., stitching a wound) or in a virtual world (managing a cancer patient within an interactive multimedia simulation). Cognitive tools are ‘‘technologies that enhance the cognitive powers of human beings during thinking, problem solving, and learning’’ (Jonassen & Reeves, 1996, p. 693). This chapter reviews the literature on simulations as cognitive tools that enable experiential learning in support of conceptual change in continuing healthcare education. In addition, the chapter prescribes an educational design research agenda to advance the state-of-the-art of simulation development and theory in this area.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLearning, problem solving, and mindtools
    Subtitle of host publicationEssays in honor of David H. Jonassen
    EditorsJ. Michael Spector, Barbara B. Lockee, Sharon Smaldino, Mary Herring
    Place of PublicationNew York
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Electronic)9780203111062
    ISBN (Print)9780415524360, 9780415524353
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • cognitive tool
    • conceptual change


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