Education and Training Research


As the United States Air Force (USAF) defines its future training and readiness concepts, it is increasingly important to create efficient and effective learning environments for education, training, and readiness assessment research and application.  Off-the-shelf game technologies have significant potential to advance this goal. We at the GRILL® collaborate with a variety of government and commercial organizations to leverage game engines and the resulting task environments to tackle fundamental training research questions for Warfighter audiences.  Game engines provide a viable option for building USAF simulations and cost-effective experimentation environments.

For more information, Contact Us.

Adaptive feedback display

Adaptive Feedback

Our study explores adaptive feedback as a method of providing personalized, dynamic performance information to trainees in simulation-based training environments.  An intrusive visual display approach is proposed as a viable form of feedback that can effectively enhance simulation-based training outcomes over other feedback methods, especially as an adaptive feedback intervention in simulation-based training. Tools used include Unity and VR-Link for Unity.
Wilson, C., Holt, J., & Elicker, J. (2014, May). Adaptive feedback in simulation-based training using a display approach.  Poster presented at the 29th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Honolulu, HI.

Mission concept training environment

Mission Concept Training Environment

We created a platform for future research and development into the effectiveness of game-based training simulations.  Having previously demonstrated that a game-based conceptual trainer could successfully train a novice user on the basic communication and procedural concepts, we built upon the previous environment to increase fidelity, as well as complexity and flexibility of mission options.  For this capability, a single game engine was used to render all perspectives as well as a custom instructor operator station, and multiple software products were linked together via custom middleware.  The environment was integrated using Unity
Gaming integration training environment

Gaming Integration Training Effectiveness: Knowledge and Performance Acquisition in a Game-Based Training Environment

Our study evaluated feasibility and effectiveness of simulation-based training using gaming technologies to develop a close air support (CAS) mission concept trainer.  Three virtual training environments were networked to facilitate team interaction.  Teams comprised of three were randomly assigned to the roles of ground controller, F-16 pilot, and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) sensor operator.  Teams completed four CAS missions with varied mission constraints and objectives (e.g., occluded targets and specific time windows for engagement).  Team members worked together to eliminate an enemy ground target while relying only on voice communication.  The study demonstrated that a game-based conceptual trainer can successfully train a novice user on the basic communication and procedural concepts of a CAS scenario.  X-Plane, VBS2, and CryEngine® were integrated using custom middleware to enable the roles within the task environment.
Technology evaluations

Technology Evaluations

The GRILL® team is continuously evaluating commercial off-the-shelf tools, such as Kinect, to understand the ease in which these tools can be integrated to advance Warfighter training.  Tools and technologies explored to date include, but are not limited to, eye trackers, SketchUp, Blender, Unity, Source, X-Plane, CryEngine®, VBS2, MetaVR, Arduino, and 3ds Max®.
If you have a technology that you feel would be of interest, please Contact Us
X-Plane DIS integration

X-Plane DIS Integration Suite (XDIS)

We created a software plug-in with the X-Plane flight simulator. The plug-in allows the following capabilities: 
• Visualize and interact with all entities within the Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) network protocol.
• Natively draw Open Flight models, a common standard within the 3D modeling industry and readily available within the Air Force. Research Laboratory (AFRL), eliminating the need to build or buy models.
• Passively transmit the location of the X-Plane flight vehicle and interpret the DIS entities for display.
• Interact with the simulation by sending DIS data packets to synthetic simulation servers.
• Attachment to DIS entities, essentially turning X-Plane into an out-the-window view for the simulation.
To request the plug-in, or for any additional information, please Contact Us
Student working

Lessons Learned

Since 2011, our program has introduced high school students to modeling and simulation (M&S), problem-based learning, 3D modeling, and game-engine technology to inspire and engage them in STEM activities. Our experiences have provided us with observations and anecdotal evidence which suggest that, for students who have already achieved academic excellence in high school, substantial gains may be made through short-term internships such as a summer appointment. For students at risk of excluding themselves from science and technology-related career paths, M&S content has potential to motivate them to address gaps in their experience and knowledge.
Winner, J., Puckett, K., Folkerth, L., Malone, A., Holt, J. (2014, December). Modeling and simulation challenge problems in high school classrooms and internships: Lessons learned. Paper presented at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference, Orlando, FL.
University of South Florida logo

Trust Development in Virtual Teams

Our study investigated team satisfaction and trust development in distributed virtual teams.  It was designed to replicate the findings of a study by Pavlova, Coovert, and Bennett (2012) from the University of South Florida using the original measures of trust and satisfaction.  Additionally, our team examined the influence of feedback orientation, feedback reactions, task engagement, and workload in relation to trust development in virtual teams.
Holt, J., Mersch, E., & Wilson, C. (2013, December). Factors contributing to the development of trust in virtual teams. Paper presented at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference, Orlando, FL.