INTRODUCTION: Simulation-integrated tutoring in virtual reality (VR) simulation training by green-lighting is a common learning support in simulation-based temporal bone surgical training. However, tutoring overreliance can negatively affect learning. We therefore wanted to investigate the effects of simulator-integrated tutoring on performance and learning.
METHODS: A prospective, educational cohort study of a learning intervention (simulator-integrated tutoring) during repeated and distributed VR simulation training for directed, self-regulated learning of the mastoidectomy procedure. Two cohorts of novices (medical students) were recruited: 16 participants were trained using the intervention program (intermittent simulator-integrated tutoring) and 14 participants constituted a non-tutored reference cohort. Outcomes were final-product performance assessed by two blinded raters, and simulator-recorded metrics.
RESULTS: Simulator-integrated tutoring had a large and positive effect on the final-product performance while turned on (mean difference 3.8 points, p<0.0001). However, this did not translate to a better final-product performance in subsequent non-tutored procedures. The tutored cohort had a better metrics-based score, reflecting higher efficiency of drilling (mean difference 3.6 %, p=0.001). For the individual metrics, simulator-integrated tutoring had mixed effects both during procedures and on the tutored cohort in general (learning effect).
CONCLUSIONS: Simulator-integrated tutoring by green-lighting did not induce a better final-product performance but increased efficiency. The mixed effects on learning could be caused by tutoring overreliance, resulting from a lack of cognitive engagement when the tutor-function is on. Further learning strategies such as feedback should be explored to support novice learning and cognitive engagement.