Date of Award

Winter 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computational Modeling & Simulation Engineering


Modeling and Simulation

Committee Director

Frederic D. McKenzie

Committee Member

John A. Sokolowski

Committee Member

Yuzhong Shen

Committee Member

Kay M. Stanney


Computer-based modeling and simulation has been a training staple in the military domain since the first aircraft simulators were adopted. More recently, virtual environments based on modeling, simulation and serious games, have introduced relatively low-cost, yet high value additions to the learning environment. As these virtual environments have proliferated, many researchers have investigated the relationship between theoretical foundations of learning, learner development and content delivery, and applied their findings in an attempt to bolster learning, yet performance deficiencies continue to exist. This study asserts that performance deficiencies exist in part because of insufficient contextually appropriate opportunities to practice.

This work is multi-disciplinary in nature. Its foundation is modeling and simulation engineering; the use of technology to deliver training. Educational psychology and human factors concepts explain the theoretical basis for modeling and simulation as an effective training delivery agent.

The study's thesis is that a framework for delivering contextually appropriate opportunities for warfighter practice can be applied to discover whether modeling, simulation and game-based virtual environments have the potential to improve individual performance for learners beyond the Novice Stage (e.g., Competent Stage) of skills acquisition. Furthermore, this conceptually appropriate practice (CAP) framework can be used to assess the potential of low fidelity virtual environments to provide targeted practice and to improve individual performance, not only during training in high-fidelity virtual environments (near transfer) but also in the live environment (far transfer).

To evaluate the thesis, this study investigates the relationship of technology and learning science, and features an empirical evaluation of training effectiveness afforded by delivering additional training repetitions using both low-fidelity virtual environment simulator systems and high-fidelity aircraft simulators.