The after-action review training approach: an integrative framework and empirical investigation



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The after?action review (AAR; also known as the after?event review or debriefing) is a training approach that is based on reviews of trainees? performance on recently completed tasks or performance events. Used by the military for decades, the use of AAR?based training has increased dramatically in recent years. Empirical research investigating AARs, however, is almost non?existent, and theoretical work on the effectiveness AAR?based training and the underlying processes have been limited. The present study presents a theoretical framework for the AAR by integrating the AAR into the existing training literature. In addition, this study presents an empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of AAR?based training, and an investigation of whether objective AAR?based training is more effective than subjective AAR?based training. One?hundred twenty individuals were trained in 30 4?person teams on a cognitively complex performance task. Teams were trained using a non?AAR?, subjective AAR?, or objective AAR?based training approach. Declarative knowledge, team performance, and team?efficacy served as the measures of training effectiveness. It was hypothesized that AAR?based training (subjective AAR? and objective AAR? based training combined) would be more effective than non?AAR?based training. Further, it was hypothesized that objective AAR?based training would be more effective than subjective AAR?based training. The study results indicated that AAR?based training was more effective than the non?AAR?based training approach in terms of team performance and team?efficacy, but not team declarative knowledge. Objective AAR?based training was no more effective than subjective AAR?based training. Teams performed equally well on the training outcome measures regardless of whether they used an objective or subjective AAR? based training approach. It is anticipated that the theoretical framework and empirical results of this study will serve as a catalyst for the integration of AAR?based training into existing training literatures and to inform the design and practice of AAR?based training systems to take full advantage of their efficacy as training interventions.