AARs are sessions to step outside of the real-time engagements, typically after heightened activity, to better understand what happened, and what should have happened.
And like all pedagogy that supports sims, they also should be used in real life.
- raw material, such as recordings/timelines,
- analysis (what happened at a thematic level),
- coaching (how to get better results next time, and perhaps how to transfer to real life, from the perspective of an expert),
- evaluation (how ready the player is to handle the real situation), and even
- game elements like a high score to spur competition and replay.
AARs ultimately requires a combination of human and comptuer intervention, but one or the other can do in a pinch.
In a sim context, AAR's should also be used often enough to force users to think about performances, and then give them the opportunity to try again.
I wrote in Learning By Doing, "in the military, After Action Reviews (AARs)) are very big deals, the same way that air is a very big deal." I can hope this will eventually be true not only of all sims, but all intense real experiences as well.