Scenario based training; scenario complexity; adaptive instruction; automated sequencing


Effective Scenario-Based Training (SBT) is sequenced in an efficient trajectory from novice to mastery and is well-grounded in pedagogically sound instructional strategies and learning theory. Adaptive, automated SBT attempts to sequence scenarios according to the performance of the student and implement the sequence without human agency. The source of these scenarios may take the form of a matrix constructed by Instructional Systems Designers (ISD), software engineers or trainers. The domain being instructed may contain procedures or concepts that are easily differentiated thus allowing quick and accurate determination of difficulty. In this instance, the sequencing of the SBT is relatively simple. However, in complex, domain-integrated instructional environments accurate and efficient sequencing may be extremely difficult as ISD, software engineers and trainers, without an objective means to calculate a scenario*s complexity must rely on subjectivity. In the Military, where time, fiscal and manpower constraints may lead to ineffective, inefficient and, perhaps, negative training SBT is a growing alternative to live training due to the significant cost avoidance demonstrated by such systems as the United States Marine Corps* (USMC) Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A1) Advanced Gunnery Training System (AGTS). Even as the practice of simulation training grows, leadership such as the Government Accountability Office asserts that little has been done to demonstrate simulator impact on trainee proficiency. The M1A1 AGTS instructional sub system, the Improved Crew Training Program (ICTP), employs an automated matrix intended to increase Tank Commander (TC) and Gunner (GNR) team proficiency. This matrix is intended to guide the team along a trajectory of ever-increasing scenario difficulty. However, as designed, the sequencing of the matrix is based on subjective evaluation of difficulty, not on empirical or objective calculations of complexity. Without effective, automated SBT that adapts to the performance of the trainee, gaps in combat readiness and fiscal responsibility could grow large. In 2010, the author developed an algorithm intended to computationally define scenario complexity (Dunne, Schatz, Fiore, Martin & Nicholson, 2010) and conducted a proof of concept study to determine the algorithm*s effectiveness (Dunne, Schatz, Fiore, Nicholson & Fowlkes, 2010). Based on results of that study, and follow-on analysis, revisions were made to that Scenario Complexity (SC) algorithm. The purpose of this research was to examine the efficacy of the revised SC algorithm to enable Educators and Trainers, ISDs, and software engineers to objectively and computationally define SC. The research process included a period of instruction for Subject Matter Experts (SME) to receive instruction on how to identify the base variables that comprise SC. Using this knowledge SMEs then determined the values of the scenarios base variables. Once calculated, these values were ranked and compared to the ICTP matrix sequence. Results indicate that the SMEs were very consistent in their ratings of the items across scenario base variables. Due to the highly proceduralized process underlying advanced gunnery skills, this high degree of agreement was expected. However, the significant lack of correlation to the matrix sequencing is alarming and while a recent study has shown the AGTS to increase TC and GNR team proficiency (PM TRASYS, 2014a), this research*s findings suggests that redesign of the ICTP matrix is in order.


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Graduation Date





Sivo, Stephen


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education and Human Performance








Release Date

June 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance; Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic

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