Facilitating Diagnostic Competences in Simulations in Higher Education A Framework and a Research Agenda

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Nicole Heitzmann, Dr.
Tina Seidel, Prof. Dr.
Ansgar Opitz
Andreas Hetmanek, Dr.
Christof Wecker, Prof. Dr.
Martin R Fischer, Prof. Dr.
Stefan Ufer, Prof. Dr.
Ralf Schmidmaier, Prof. Dr.
Birgit Neuhaus, Prof. Dr.
Matthias Siebeck, Prof. Dr.
Kathleen Stürmer, Prof. Dr.
Andreas Obersteiner, Prof. Dr.
Kristina Reiss, Prof. Dr.
Raimund Girwidz, Prof. Dr.
Frank Fischer, Prof. Dr.


Diagnosis is a prerequisite for successful professional problem-solving: A physician identifies an appropriate treatment based on a diagnosis of the patient’s disease, and a teacher selects an appropriate learning task based on an assessment of the student’s prior knowledge. Education in academic professions such as medicine or teaching is often focuses on the acquisition of conceptual knowledge from lectures and books; opportunities for students to engage in practical diagnostic situations are typically rare. However, applying such conceptual knowledge in diagnostic activities is regarded as necessary for developing diagnostic competences. In this article, we focus on simulations in which students can actively engage in practicing diagnostic activities concerning cases from professional practice. We review and link research perspectives on diagnostic competences, their components and their development. This is partly done by exploring the commonalities and differences in research on diagnostic competences in medicine and teaching. Then, we present approaches to simulation, followed by different types of instructional support in such simulations. In particular, we focus on different forms of scaffolding during problem-solving, and on the possibly complementary roles of expository forms of instruction in these kinds of environments. Building on the perspectives reviewed, we propose a framework for fostering diagnostic competences in simulations in higher education and outline an interdisciplinary research approach concerning the instructional design of such simulations.

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How to Cite
Heitzmann, N., Seidel, T., Opitz, A., Hetmanek, A., Wecker, C., Fischer, M. R., Ufer, S., Schmidmaier, R., Neuhaus, B., Siebeck, M., Stürmer, K., Obersteiner, A., Reiss, K., Girwidz, R., & Fischer, F. (2019). Facilitating Diagnostic Competences in Simulations in Higher Education: A Framework and a Research Agenda. Frontline Learning Research, 7(4), 1-24. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v7i4.384
Author Biography

Frank Fischer, Prof. Dr., Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Frank Fischer earned his doctorate in Psychology in 1997 from the University of Munich. He was an assistant professor for Applied Cognitive Psychology and Media Psychology at the University of Tuebingen and held a professorship for Instructional Psychology at the University of Erfurt (2002-2003). From 2004-2006 he was an associate professor for Research on Learning and Instruction at the University of Tuebingen and at the Knowledge Media Research Center. Since October 2006, he has been a full professor of Educational Science and Educational Psychology at the University of Munich. He served as Dean of Faculty (2011-2013). Since 2009 and has been the Director of the Munich Center of the Learning Sciences, an interdisciplinary collaboration of more than 30 research groups focussing on advancing research on learning „from cortex to community“. He also served as the President of the International Society of the Learning Sciences (2012-2013) and is member of the Executive Committee of this society in the role of the past-president. His research focuses on scripting, scaffolding and guidance for collaborative learning, as well as inquiry and simulation-based learning. An overarching question is how technology-enhanced learning environments can advance knowledge and skills of collaborative learners in school, higher and continuing education. Two of his recent projects address questions of collaborative learning in video-supported environments in the context of teacher professional development. He has published more than 100 articles and chapters, and co-edited 6 books and special issues of scientific journals.