Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Instructional Design and Technology

Committee Director

John Baaki

Committee Member

Petros Katsioloudis

Committee Member

Helen Crompton


Simulations have become increasingly popular in many contexts, particularly for performance optimization, testing, and safety (Aldrich, 2003). By nature, simulations immerse the learner in an environment that is an approximate imitation of the situation or process to be learned (Baek, 2009). In the literature, there is a lack of qualitative research on the perceptions of learners regarding the use of failure-based learning in simulations. The idea of learning through failure experiences is not a new concept, yet, to date, no instructional design models have discussed how to employ failure strategically within education (Tawfik, Rong, & Choi, 2015).

This study utilized Tawfik et al.’s (2015) unified model of failure and learning systems design to create a drone flight simulation designed to focus on safely operating a drone while capturing high-quality aerial videography. Data collection included semi-structured interviews with 16 licensed drone pilots. This study illuminates the pilots’ perceptions and understanding about employing a failure-based learning model in a drone flight training simulation. Key findings from a thematic analysis of the interviews were that learners find value in experiencing and learning from failure and that the failure experiences led to increased self-confidence and intrinsic motivation.


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