Why students engage in simulation and how it prepares them for work


  • David Biggins Bournemouth University
  • Debbie Holley Bournemouth University
  • Ben Goldsmith Bournemouth University
  • Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez University of Portsmouth




simulation, graduate skills, transition into work


In the future, learning will take the shape of a story, a play, a game; involving multiple platforms and players; driven by dialogue and augmented with technology, an interplay of immersive experiences, data, and highly social virtual worlds (Lee et al., 2021).

Employers seek graduates who demonstrate attributes that organisations require to develop in the future. As students transition out of higher education, they should have the ‘abilities and capabilities to maintain employment’ (Asiri et al., 2017 p. 2). The transition out of university can be perceived as particularly stressful, with uncertainty about what is required for a successful career (Jackson and Tomlinson, 2020). This is exacerbated in the post Covid-19 environment when, even as the graduate job market has started to recover, students’ confidence about finding a job after graduation remains low (Curnock Cook, 2022). Our simulation methods are aligned to the theories that underpin these transitions,  and designed to support students  ‘becoming’ professionals in their field. Simulations can be designed for cognitive absorption, the psychological concept of flow and deep absorption in learning (Kukulska-Hulme et al., 2022). Premised on the innovation of best learning moments, the student tasks shared in this workshop engender deep involvement, through memorable learning activities. This reflects the ‘ways of working’ of the Learning Development (LD) community, and evidence suggests that reflective practice, learning complex skills and scaffolding learning are the transferable aspects of these technologies (Chernikova et al., 2020).

Widening participation research has provided evidence that students’ movements in and out of experiences such as care, work and studies are dynamic, non-sequential and context-dependent (Holley and Priego-Hernández, 2021). With the move to hybrid learning, students want their learning materials to be well-designed. However, 43% of students do not perceive their learning materials to be engaging/motivating (Killen and Didymus, 2022). Immersive technology and simulation may offer the solution to this disconnect, as simulations offer an immersive and embodied experience (Bayne 2004; Bayne et al., 2019). Signature pedagogies (Thomson et al., 2012) for professions can provide a means for institutions to achieve the requirements of Office for Students’ B3 (2022) which is now assessing student continuation, degree outcomes, including differential outcomes for student characteristics, and, framing this workshop, graduate employment and progression to professional jobs and postgraduate study.

Learning Developers have a pivotal part to play operationalising actions that result into students’ graduate outcomes, and responding to this, our workshop invited participants to experience three types of simulation: a) a business game; b) a mass casualty evacuation; and c) a community project responding to a scenario.

Author Biographies

David Biggins, Bournemouth University

Dr David Biggins has a strong interest in technology enhanced learning and led the academic development of a TEL toolkit. He champions the use of TEL amongst colleagues, has led learning analytics projects and continues to research the positives and negatives of using data for the benefit of staff and students.


Debbie Holley, Bournemouth University

Debbie Holley is Professor of Learning Innovation at Bournemouth University, where she leads innovation in research, teaching and professional practice. As National Teaching Fellow, she is a passionate educator, and has research interests in digital frameworks and the affordances of technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual/Immersive Realities and Mobile Learning.  

Ben Goldsmith, Bournemouth University

Dr Ben Goldsmith is a Lecturer in Education Excellence in the Centre for Fusion Learning, Innovation and Excellence at Bournemouth University. Ben is a highly experienced academic, writer, editor, researcher, and educator. His research and publication practice is intensely collaborative, with a wide range of co-authors and editors among his published outputs.


Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez, University of Portsmouth

Dr Jacqueline Priego-Hernández is a social psychologist interested in creative research methods for the study of education and health interventions at the community level. She is the interim Associate Dean (Global Engagement) in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Portsmouth.



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How to Cite

Biggins, D. (2023) “Why students engage in simulation and how it prepares them for work”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1110.

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