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Priorities in K-12 Learning for 2023: How Simulation Can Help

The 2023-2024 school year brings many opportunities to make a positive impact on learning outcomes. If you’re in Health Sciences education, you’re likely preparing to tackle the many priorities you’ve set for the year.

In this article, we explore a few priorities that have the attention of many districts and share some ways that simulation can help elevate your Health Sciences program in these areas.

Boosting student engagement


Student engagement is at the top of many educators’ priority lists.1 A 2023 survey found that 80% of teachers are concerned about their students’ engagement in classroom-based learning.2

Research shows that when students are engaged, they’re more likely to be academically successful, have passing grades throughout high school, and graduate on time.3 In a health sciences curriculum, engagement seems even more paramount – because it impacts the learning effectiveness of skills that may one day save a life. 

Research shows that when students are engaged, they’re more likely to be academically successful, have passing grades throughout high school, and graduate on time.3 In a health sciences curriculum, engagement seems even more paramount – because it impacts the learning effectiveness of skills that may one day save a life.

If you’re seeking ways to boost engagement in your curriculum, simulation-based training can help. Simulation provides students with a comprehensive and repeatable hands-on learning experience. This encounter allows them to practice assessment, diagnosis, and clinical procedures on a lifelike manikin. In this immersive setting, students can perfect their skills and build confidence in a safe setting. The hands-on environment of simulation brings learning to life in a way that textbook and PowerPoint slides fall short.

Students who train using simulation experience a higher level of engagement and show more personal involvement in their training compared to those who only experience didactic learning.4

Depending on your learning objectives, it doesn’t always take a highly-detailed simulation scenario to get your students’ attention. With the right tools, you can also infuse engagement into areas like CPR training. After sitting through the hours of didactic learning of a traditional classroom course, students may have become disconnected. Re-engaging them during the hands-on CPR portion of the course is key to ensuring they’re learning and perfecting this lifesaving psychomotor skill effectively.

CPR manikins today have real-time feedback, measurement, and scoring technology built in to help you motivate learners and quickly identify who needs help. And, scoring allows you to amplify student engagement levels by providing a gamification option, such as a friendly, thrilling CPR competition. This will allow you to entertain and motivate your students while reinforcing their skills on all the key components of high-quality CPR.

95% of teachers say it should be a priority for every school to support teachers with the tools and strategies they need to increase and sustain student engagement.5

Addressing persisting learning loss

Research indicates that the learning damage that the pandemic inflicted continues to persist.6 Students haven’t recovered the learning that they lost at the beginning of the pandemic.7 Naturally, addressing this ongoing issue continues to be a primary focus for many districts.

In a CTE program, addressing unfinished learning might mean making sure students can pass industry certification exams, finish their programs, and transition successfully into the workforce.8



If you're still facing any unfinished learning with your Health Sciences students, the challenge of making up for lost time as efficiently as possible has likely been a difficult one. Leveraging teaching methods that ensure students learn effectively today and retain their new knowledge for tomorrow can help students be ready for the workforce without additional time setbacks.

The hands-on, realistic nature of simulation gives it the power to leave a lasting impression on students - in the form of increased learning retention. 

Experts agree on the important role of hands-on practice for skills retention in K-12 education.9 Simulation has been shown to result in higher long-term retention rates vs. exclusively didactic learning. 10

Evidence indicates that clinical skills acquired in medical simulation laboratory settings transfer directly to improved patient care practices and better patient outcomes.11 Incorporating simulation into your Health Sciences CTE or STEM curriculum can ensure students are learning and retaining key clinical abilities, helping to turn learning losses into lasting learning gains

Utilizing a simulation learning management system in your program can help you increase teaching efficiency by making it easier to manage, record, and assess simulation activities. This can facilitate the detection and correction of any learning issues early, creating an efficient approach to managing simulation learning.


According to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), utilizing available funding to invest in new technologies like learning management systems can meet both short-and long-term needs to enhance instruction, streamline administrative tasks, or support students.12 Other suggested technologies include video for facilitating skills demonstrations from a distance and virtual reality simulations to help students practice before performing skills in a real work environment.13


Reinforcing social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies in a real-world environment

Social emotional learning (SEL) continues to be an area of high interest for educators, as students struggle to adjust socially post-pandemic and as technology brings new challenges to students’ social-emotional development.14

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.15 

The five CASEL competencies are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision-making16

In terms of career training, these skills are paramount – because they’ll be needed and desired in essentially any workplace. In the health sciences, these skills are a cornerstone in preparing students to practice safe, patient-centered care.

In a survey of employers, 79% ranked social-emotional skills as more important than cognitive and technical skills.17

CTE educators agree that SEL skills are an essential building block for success in CTE programs18 - and research supports including SEL in career-development practices and student-learning plans.19

"If [students] have never been given [SEL] tools and then we put them in high-stress situations or … rigorous classes, they crumble," explains Melissa Lane, Emergency Medical Services instructor at the Area 31 Career Center in Indianapolis.20

If you’re looking for a way to reinforce SEL training you’re currently conducting in your health sciences curriculum, simulation can help. A simulation scenario can lend students the opportunity to apply a range of SEL skills in a similar environment to the one they’ll face in their healthcare careers.



Teamwork and communication are two SEL skills that have been identified as especially important and highly desired by employers.21In the healthcare environment, these skills can make a tremendous impact on patient outcomes.22 Many college nursing programs are using simulation to practice teamwork and collaboration, which are part of the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) competencies.23 Similarly, using simulation in your health sciences program can allow your students to refine their SEL skills by working together as a team in an environment that mimics a real clinical setting. 

Teaching and Training Educational Services Courses

Safeguard faculty and ensure success with professional development

High-quality teaching is known to be a leading factor in student success.24 However, K-12 schools continue to battle an ongoing faculty shortage that was worsened by the pandemic.25 This situation has led to an increased focus on faculty retention.26   
Regular training can enhance an employee’s initiative and quality of work as well as make them more committed to achieving organizational goals.27 And, research suggests that employees who are engaged and thriving are 59% less likely to seek another job elsewhere.28 
If you're interested in starting or expanding a simulation program, professional development will be an important factor in your program's success. Enrolling in courses taught by skilled simulation educators can help empower your faculty with the knowledge they need to thrive and grow an effective simulation program. 

Contact us to learn more about Laerdal Solutions for K-12 Programs

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Supporting your Health Sciences training initiatives


  1. Student Engagement. (2023). Gradient learning. Retrieved from
  2. 2023 Student Engagement. (2023). Gradient learning poll. Retrieved from
  3. Dyer, K. (2015). Research proof points: Better student engagement improves student learning. NWEA. Retrieved from
  4. Laerdal Medical. (n.d.). 3 Ways Simulation Can Fast-track your Learning Efforts. Retrieved from
  5. Gradient learning poll (2023). see reference #2.
  6. Sparks, S. D. (2023). Global academic loss persists nearly three years into the pandemic. Education Week. Retrieved from
  7. Ibid.
  8. High-Quality CTE During COVID-19: Leveraging Federal Relief Funds at the Local Level. (2021). Association for Career and Technical Education. Retrieved from
  9. Hands on Learning Benefits for Easy K-12 Implementation. (2021). Student-Centered World. Retrieved from
  10. Maddry, J., Varney, S., Sessions, D., Heard, K., Thaxton, R., Ganem, V., Zarzabal, L., & Bebarta, V. (2014). A Comparison of Simulation-Based Education Versus Lecture-Based Instruction for Toxicology Training in Emergency Medicine Residents. Journal of Medical Toxicology, 10(4), p. 364-368. DOI: 10.1007/s13181-014-0401-8
  11. McGaghie, W., Issenberg, B., Cohen, E., Barsuk, J., & Wayne, D. (2011). Does Simulation-based Medical Education with Deliberate Practice Yield Better Results than Traditional Clinical Education? A Meta-Analytic Comparative Review of the Evidence. Academic Medicine, 86(6), p. 706-711. DOI: doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318217e119
  12. Association for Career and Technical Education. (2021). See reference #8.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Prothero, A. (2023). Status check: The top challenges to social-emotional learning and how to address them. Education Week. Retrieved from
  15. Fundamentals of SEL. (n.d.) Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Retrieved from
  16. What Is the CASEL Framework? (n.d.) Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Retrieved from
  17. Smith, A. (2020). Connecting Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) to Career Success. Association for Career and Technical Education. Retrieved from
  18. Lindsay, J. (2021). Career-technical educators call social emotional learning 'a huge value' in schools. WFYI. Retrieved from
  19. Smith, A. (2020). See reference #17.
  20. Lindsay, J. (2021). See reference #18.
  21. Mulvahill, E. (2020). Prepare Your Students for the Real World by Focusing on These Social-Emotional-Learning Skills. We Are Teachers. Retrieved from
  22. Leonard, M., Graham, S., & Bonacum, D. (2004.)  The Human Factor: The Critical Importance of Effective Teamwork and Communication in Providing Safe Care.  Quality & Safety in Health Care, 13 (Suppl 1), i85-i90. doi:10.1136/qshc.2004.010033
  23. QSEN Competencies. (n.d.) QSEN Institute. Retrieved from
  24. Ascione, L. (2021). 6 necessary steps to move K-12 education forward in 2021. eSchool News. Retrieved from
  25. Bryant, J., Ram, S., Scott, D., & Williams, C. (2023). K–12 teachers are quitting. what would make them stay? McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from
  26. Ibid.
  27. Maimuna, M. & Yazdanifard, R. (2013). The impact of employee training and development on employee productivity. Global Journal of Commerce & Management, 2(6), 91-93.
  28. St-Aubin, N. (2018). Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about employee turnover. Office Vibe. Retrieved from