Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - E-Assessment



The terms "simulation" and "role play", which belong to forms of experiential learning, are often used synonymously.

However, a simulation is usually a familiar or realistic situation in which the role of the participants is less individualised and more predetermined by the role within the simulation, e.g. making a diagnosis.

Both forms generally serve to test conceptual understanding and developed problem-solving skills.

Types of simulations

  • Data management: Simulation is often team-based and involves variables that are manipulated.
  • Diagnostic and crisis management: cause and effect mechanisms are derived from real cases, e.g. gas explosion and rescue operation. Experts can help with the task.
  • Social process management: Learners interact personally with the situations, e.g. as a teacher in a parent interview. These simulations can have different outcomes.


Advantages and disadvantages of assessment with simulations

  • Simulation provides a form of authentic assessment.

  • It shows students a direct, practical relevance of their learning process to their future practice.

  • Teachers can assess learners' readiness for the practical component of their studies.

  • Technology-based forms of simulation support immediate feedback to learners.

  • Simulations provide an effective means of assessing students' context-specific competencies as well as their content knowledge.

  • Simulated learning environments have been attributed three key benefits in the medical and health literature:


    • They promote an increase in self-efficacy in clinical decision-making,

    • they improve clinical communication skills, and

    • promote greater student awareness of the role they play in a collaborative care environment.


  • Simulations are not suitable for all students, e.g. if someone has difficulty participating in groups, anxiety is triggered and this affects performance.
  • Simulations cannot achieve true authenticity. Therefore, examiners should only use individual aspects of the simulation to assess learners.
  • Learners need to be guided before and during the simulation.
  • Simulations are time-consuming for learners and should therefore not clash too closely with other examination dates.
  • The cost (materials, staff, time) of creating a simulation can be significant.