Tactical decision games in teaching

The role of tactical decision games (TDGs) as a novel method of teaching non-technical skills (NTS) to final year medical students.

Team members: Iain Drummond, Janet Skinner, Morwenna Wood

Other team members: Gauhar Sheikh, Trisha Lamb, Steven Klym


This study aims to explore and understand how tactical decision games (TDGs) may be used to teach non-technical skills (NTS) to senior medical students in preparation for working as junior doctors in the acute clinical environment.

Key NTS required by junior doctors in acute care are decision-making, situation awareness, task management and teamwork. Previous work in the Centre for Medical Education (CME) and elsewhere has demonstrated that new FY1s have difficulty demonstrating effective NTS behaviours.

High-fidelity simulation is one means of developing NTS but is expensive with respect to both equipment and personnel. TDGs represent a low-fidelity, affordable and sustainable alternative means of teaching NTS. TDGs have been widely used in non-medical fields but their potential application in medical settings does not appear to have been studied.

The 1st phase of this study aims to pilot generic (non-medical) TDGs with final year medical students, to determine their feasibility and acceptability and to understand how they can be used most effectively.

In the 2nd phase, the emphasis will be on determining whether TDGs influence NTS behaviour in a high-fidelity simulation environment and on the development of medical TDGs.

It is anticipated that the findings of this research will influence curriculum development locally within the University of Edinburgh Medical School and nationally and internationally through dissemination via medical education conferences and publication in peer-reviewed journals

Final Project Report

Final Report may be downloaded using link below:

Final Project Report (PDF)

Further Project Outcomes/Dissemination

  • Case Study report developed for the Institute for Academic Development, University of Edinburgh