TOOLS FOR INTERACTIVE CASE METHOD ANALYSIS
Randall W. Hill, Jr., Andrew S. Gordon, and Julia M. Kim
Institute for Creative Technologies
University of Southern California
13274 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292
The Army Excellence in Leadership (AXL) project at the University of Southern California’s Institute for
Creative Technologies is aimed at supporting the acquisition of tacit knowledge of military leadership through the development of compelling filmed narratives of leadership scenarios and interactive training technologies. The approach taken in the AXL project is to leverage the best practices of case-method teaching and use Hollywood storytelling techniques to create fictional case studies (as filmed media) addressing specific leadership issues. In addition to authoring compelling cases for analysis, we have developed software prototypes that instantiate the case-method teaching approach. These systems engage individual trainees in human-computer dialogues that are focused on the leadership issues that have been embedded in the fictional cases.
1. INTRODUCTION AND MOTIVATION
Given the rapid pace of Army deployments in global hot spots, there is an existing and ever growing need to accelerate the development of the Army’s young leaders.
Leadership is a topic that is challenging both to teach and to learn. Unlike basic soldiering skills that can be taught and practiced as an explicit set of procedural steps, leadership is a form of expertise that is difficult to articulate and transfer to others using a standard approach to task training.
Research on leader development shows that expertise is gained primarily through experience and by taking time to reflect on the lessons learned from an episode (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 2002; McCall,
Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988; Sternberg et al., 2000).
The combination of experience and reflection eventually leads lessons to become part of the tacit knowledge of the practitioner.
In an ideal world, leaders would be developed by providing them with just the right set of experiences from which to learn. The challenge for the Army is how
to develop leaders who can function in the current operating environment before they’ve experienced it.
This is particularly true today, as the Army’s warfighters are faced with extremely stressful and demanding situations that are “close to war” but are not covered by standard tactics and doctrine.
1.1 Think Like A Commander
Previously, the Army Research Institute and the
Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort
Leavenworth developed a training technique called
“Think Like a Commander” (TLAC). In TLAC, a tactical scenario is presented using a slide presentation, and a tactical senior mentor leads a class of students through a structured analysis of the case. Students participate in the analysis of eight different facets of the scenario: 1. What is the mission? What is the commander’s intent? 2. What is the threat?
3. What are the effects of terrain on the situation?
4. What assets are available?
5. What is the role of timing in this situation?
6. What is the big picture of what is happening?
7. How would you visualize the battlefield?
8. What contingencies should be considered?
The classroom mentor’s role is to engage the students in an open discussion about each of these issues.
Learning takes place in two ways. First, the students learn a particular case in great detail. The discussion inevitably brings out alternate points of view, and students may find their assertions challenged. The result is a deeper understanding of the issues. Second, students learn the TLAC case analysis process itself, which is a general method for critical thinking and analysis. One of the goals of TLAC is to habituate commanders to approach any scenario with these questions in mind.
1.2 Tacit knowledge of military