The comparative effect of subjective and objective after-action reviews on team performance on a complex task. Academic Article uri icon


  • The after-action review (AAR; also known as the after-event review or debriefing) is an approach to training based on a review of trainees' performance on recently completed tasks or performance events. Used by the military for decades, nonmilitary organizations' use of AARs has increased dramatically in recent years. Despite the prevalence of AARs, empirical research investigating their effectiveness has been limited. This study sought to investigate the comparative effectiveness of objective AARs (reviews based on an objective recording and playback of trainees' recent performance) and subjective AARs (reviews based on a subjective, memory-based recall of trainees' recent performance). One hundred eighty-eight individuals, participating in 47 4-person teams, were assigned to 1 of 3 AAR conditions and practiced and tested on a cognitively complex performance task. Although there were no significant differences between objective and subjective AAR teams across the 5 training outcomes, AAR teams had higher levels of team performance, team efficacy, openness of communication, and cohesion than did non-AAR teams but no differences in their levels of team declarative knowledge. Our results suggest that AARs are effective at enhancing training outcomes. Furthermore, AARs may not be dependent on objective reviews and therefore may be a viable training intervention when objective reviews are not feasible or possible.

published proceedings

  • J Appl Psychol

altmetric score

  • 7.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Villado, A. J., & Arthur, W

citation count

  • 63

complete list of authors

  • Villado, Anton J||Arthur, Winfred

publication date

  • May 2013