Simulations and Role Playing
What is a simulation?
Simulations are activities that place students in a fictional role which requires them to apply concepts taught in the course to solve problems or achieve a goal. Through these experiences students are able to develop decision-making and critical thinking skills.
How do I develop a simulation?
Simulations are most effective when they are based on current events and involve polarizing issues. An example is a political negotiation between multiple countries, or a land-use agreement amongst multiple stakeholders. Based on the size of your course, you can decide how many parties you want the simulation to have and how big each group can be.
How is a simulation deployed?
In small classes, it might be simple to imagine a group of stakeholders sitting around a table, trying to come to a consensus. However in a larger class you have to be a bit more creative. One effective technique is to split students into groups, and have each group elect a spokesperson to speak on their behalf. Another might be to have each group make a presentation about their case, and then invite open debate in your class. A third option might be to have multiple concurrent simulations running at the same time.
How do you evaluate the results of a simulation?
One of the most important marks in a simulation is participation. Therefore, students can grade each other, along with your evaluation. Groups may be asked to present, and students could be asked to write reflective essays or research papers.
Tools for Fostering Engagement
The evaluation of a simulation occurs at the reflection stage, and can take the form of any of the many activities listed in the reflection section.