The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Strategic use of figurants in vocational training

Cecilia Jonsson, Centre for Police Research and Development, Linnaeus University (Sweden)

Susanna Lif, Centre for Police Research and Development, Linnaeus University (Sweden)


Bridging theory and practice, scenario-based exercises with figurants is a common learning tool in vocational training (Gonczi, 2013; Dieckmann 2009; Diamond et al., 2011). However, to deliver the desired outcome, several pedagogical challenges must be met. While previous research often focuses on the exercises’ design, level of realism and complexity (Gonzci, 2013), there is a lack of knowledge regarding the figurants’ role in the context (Jonsson & Lif, 2021; Fragnière et al., 2019). The study’s purpose is to develop this knowledge by mapping how figurants are used and what significance and challenges they bring. Theoretically, we derive from a development of Aristoteles’ principles of knowledge in terms of episteme, techne and phronesis (Thomassen, 2007) and lean on Dreyfus’ and Dreyfus’ (1986) to explain how these exercises help students develop professional praxis. Methods used are participatory observation and interviews with students, teachers and figurants regarding experiences of scenario-based exercises in Swedish police education. The empirical material identifies three types of figurants generating specific benefits and challenges; as well as difficulties in matching; unclear expectations and insufficient feedback. Several learning objectives relate to scenario-based exercises with figurants. However, a strategic selection and use of figurants, adequate preparations and understanding of their role are imperative in reaching the desired outcome.

Keywords Figurants, scenario-based exercises, vocational training 

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DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2013.763590
[2] Dieckmann, P. (2009). “Simulation Setting for Learning in Acute Medical Care.” In Using Simulations for Education, Training and Research, Vol. 3, edited by Peter Dieckmann, 40–138. Berlin: Pabst Science Publishers
[3] Diamond, S., Middleton, A., & Mather, R. (2011). A cross faculty simulation model for authentic learning. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 48(1), 25–35. DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2010.518423
[4] Jonsson, C., & Lif, S. (2021). Användandet av figuranter på polisutbildningen: Pedagogiska och administrativa utmaningar (Centrum för polisforskning och utveckling; 3). Växjö: Linnéuniversitetet
[5] Fragniére, E., Nanchen, B., Ramseyer, R., Kuonen, P., Larpin, B., & Wilk, P.-Y.R.R. (2019). “Fieldwork Analysis of Figurants' Involvement in an Airplane Crash Simulation in Order to Improve the Realism of the Exercise”, 2019 8th International Conference on Industrial Technology and Management (ICITM), pp. 147-151.
DOI: 10.1109/ICITM.2019.8710695
[6] Thomassen, M., & Retzlaff, J. (2007). Vetenskap, kunskap och praxis: introduktion till vetenskapsfilosofi (1. ed.). Malmö: Gleerups utbildning
[7] Dreyfus, H. L., and Dreyfus, S. E. (1986). Mind over Machine: the power of human intuition and expertise in the age of the computer. Oxford: Basil Blackwell


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