Games-based learning as an effective middle-ground in police training

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Rebecca Ferguson
15 May 2017

Anne Adams and Jennefer Hart

Abstract:Current police training has tended to focus on time-consuming and costly face-to-face and role-playing activities. Over the last 10 years a range of technologies have been used to make these more cost-effective and realistic, from the increased realism with full virtual reality immersion (Hydra) to cost-effective check-box training (NCALT). However, when looking at the learning these technologies support it clear that these approaches only provide some of the solutions to police training needs. In response to this, a recent games-based learning project has currently been conducted with over 300 police officers at all levels across 16 UK Police forces whom have been involved in either the development, formative and summative evaluation. The game supports the training of new recruit police officers in collecting ‘first accounts’ from child witnesses. A range of data collection from interviews, focus groups, user experience questionnaires and a full randomised controlled trial have and are being completed. Analysis methods include; an interwoven top-down to a bottom-up qualitative analysis approach, user experience analysis and A,B,C,D analysis. The spread of results have been identified covering issues of emotional complexity and rapport training, tacit and procedural skills along with the depth of conceptual understanding. This paper builds on these detailed findings to provide a discussion and critical reflection on the role of games-based learning as a middle ground for training. In particular the findings focus on the role of different technology enhanced learning approaches and activities for translating knowledge and understanding into practice-based behaviours. The particular issue of games approaches providing relevance, realism and learner autonomy is discussed in more detail. Finally ethical considerations around the safety critical nature and efficacy of different technologies for embedding understanding are also reviewed.


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