Vocations and Learning

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 269–285 | Cite as

The Role of Simulation in Pedagogies of Higher Education for the Health Professions: Through a Practice-Based Lens

  • Donna RooneyEmail author
  • Nick Hopwood
  • David Boud
  • Michelle Kelly
Original Paper


The preparation of future professionals for practice is a key focus of higher education institutions. Among a range of approaches is the use of simulation pedagogies. While simulation is often justified as a direct bridge between higher education and professional practice, this paper questions this easy assumption. It develops a conceptually driven argument to cast new light on simulation and its unarticulated potential in professional formation. The argument unfolds in, and is illustrated via, three accounts of a simulation event in an Australian undergraduate nursing program. This begins with a familiar approach, moves to one that problematizes this through a focus on disruption, culminating in a third that draws on socio-material theorisations. Here, simulation is conceived as emergent, challenging stable notions of fidelity, common in simulation literature. New possibilities of simulation in the production of agile practitioners and learners in practice are surfaced. This paper extends and enriches thinking by providing distinctive new ways of understanding simulation and the relationship it affords between education and professional practice, and by illuminating the untapped potential of simulation for producing agile practitioners.


Simulation Professional practice Higher education Practice theory Agile practitioners Agile learners 



The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical clearance for the project, which enabled data for his paper to be collected, was gained through the university’s Human Research Ethics Committee. All participants provided their informed consent. The project was made possible through funding from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ Research Development Grant scheme.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Social ScienceUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital LearningDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Institute for Work-Based LearningMiddlesex UniversityLondonUK
  4. 4.Faculty of HealthUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia

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