By Ward Rovira


[fi-del-i-tee, fahy-] –noun,plural-ties.
1. strict observance of promises, duties, etc.: a servant's fidelity.
2. loyalty: fidelity to one's country.
conjugal faithfulness.
adherence to fact or detail.
accuracy; exactness: The speech was transcribed with great fidelity. 6. Audio, Video. the degree of accuracy with which sound or images are recorded or reproduced.

What does our text say about fidelity in simulations?
Which of the above definitions do you think Alessi and Trollip (2001) used to define fidelity? If you picked definition number five you would be correct. The authors discuss how simulations that accurately show reality have greater fidelity, ie.. they are more faithful to the reality they portray. It would appear that the better the fidelity in a simulation the more a student would learn from it, but the authors discuss how fidelity is linked to what they call "initial learning". They define initial learning is, "the level of learning at the time of instruction."

The easiest way to understand the connection between fidelity, initial learning and transfer of learning is through a simple analogy using myself as an example, I don't gain any benefit from a simulation that has low fidelity because my initial learning level is very high. I looked up some frog dissection simulations to help explain this further. If you click on the following link, Froggy, you will find a very simple form of dissection. the student (me) doesn't really do anything but click on a hard to view picture. I gained very little knowledge from this site because being an experienced computer user I am used to better graphics and complex interfaces. A better frog dissection simulation made in 1994 is Interactive Frog Dissection. This simulation has better fidelity and I actually learned a few things from this one. The best is an updated version of Interactive Frog Dissection called Net Frog. Net Frog is a wonderful tool with great videos and it left me feeling very confident. My example demonstrates that to get an appropriate transfer of knowledge I had to use a simulation with greater fidelity because of my high initial learning level (advanced computer user).

What do others say about fidelity in simulations?
What is fidelity in simulation?
How do you measure it?

What does high fidelity in a simulation look like?