The Sea of Simulation : Improving Naval Shiphandling Training and Readiness through Game-Based Learning
Reber, Ethan A.
Bernard, Benjamin J.
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Currently, a gap exists between seminar-style shiphandling training and higher fidelity simulations available to the U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer (SWO). There is currently no individually accessible, low cost, intermediate level, interactive modality shiphandling resource that would allow SWOs to practice shiphandling skills without requiring instructor oversight. A student research team from the Naval Postgraduate Schools MOVES Institute exposed newly commissioned SWO students at the Surface Warfare Officers School to basic task scenarios designed to be complementary to material covered in their introductory course of instruction utilizing VSTEPs Ship Simulator Extremes game. The students completed the treatment task trainer protocol utilizing a Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter model and continued with the standard introductory course curriculum where they utilized the fully immersive Conning Officer Virtual Environment (COVE) shiphandling trainer. Students were later evaluated in COVE on their ability to maneuver a Guided Missile Destroyer, a similarly configured but larger ship, underway from a San Diego pier. The students exposed to the game-based scenarios performed at a statistically significantly higher level in the categories of Standard Commands and Margins of Safety Maintainedtwo key indicators of shiphandling proficiencyfollowing their normal course of instruction, than the control group. Also of note, the novice level students encountered difficulty in unlearning the handling characteristics of one model and learning a new one through the course of their instruction. Our findings suggest that an individually accessible, game based, shiphandling task trainer with ship models matching those found in the COVE and Full Mission Bridge would benefit newly commissioned SWOs by reinforcing classroom instruction. This trainer could potentially be used by SWOs of all skill levels as a self-study tool prior to participation in high level, fully immersive, and manpower intensive, naval shiphandling simulators.
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