Summary and Keywords
Simulations and role-play exercises have been used in the international studies classroom for over fifty years, producing a considerable body of literature devoted to their study and evolution. From the earliest use of simulations in the classroom, instructors have sought to identify and characterize the benefits of these techniques for student learning. Scholars note, in particular, the value of simulations in achieving specific learning objectives that are not easily conveyed through lecture format. More recent writings have focused on what specific lessons can be conveyed through different types of exercises, and have included detailed descriptions or appendices so that others can use these exercises. And as simulations and role-play exercises have become more widely incorporated into the classroom, a growing body of literature has also provided instructions on how to custom design simulations to fit instructors’ specific needs. Although initial evaluations of the effectiveness of simulations were methodologically weak and flawed by research design, sampling, or other methodological problems, newer studies have become more sophisticated. Rather than simply arguing that simulations are (or are not) a better teaching tool than traditional class formats, there is greater recognition that simulations are simply one technique of many that can promote student learning. Scholars, however, are still seeking to understand under what conditions simulations and role-play exercises are especially beneficial in the classroom.
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