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Getting the Most from Classroom Simulations: Strategies for Maximizing Learning Outcomes
Unformatted Document Text:  from. However, there is also a great deal of value to a short and clearly delineated exercise – particularly when the intent is to emphasize a few specific points. For example, crisis negotiations are best taught in a short and intense simulation in which decisions must be made quickly and without a great deal of information. Pre-simulation student preparation Once a simulation exercise has been selected, ample time should be allocated for student preparation, including introducing the content and format but also setting expectations and allowing time for research and team meetings. Whenever possible, students should be encouraged to connect course content with negotiation outcomes in the lead up to the exercise. This approach encourages active learning in the pre-simulation phase by allowing students to apply knowledge to a concrete task, and also increases the likelihood that they will be well-prepared for the exercise itself. There are many ways to accomplish this, and this decision should be guided by considerations of how your content fits within the framework of the exercise (and vice-versa). One effective approach is to link the issues in the simulation exercise with course contents in discrete units. As seen in the sample syllabus (Appendix I), the issue areas in the simulation can become an organizational tool for course content. Having students give classroom presentations on this content, particularly if done from the perspective of their assigned role, can further increase their learning. Another approach is to integrate simulation preparation into class written assignments and tests. Assignments and tests that include simulation-specific material serve to emphasize the importance of the exercise as well as increase preparation opportunities. These two options are not mutually exclusive, and in fact complement each other very well. Depending on your particular situation, it may not be possible or desirable to create a course that revolves around a simulation exercise. This is particularly the case for instructors new to simulation. However, some level of integration of content and simulation is important for the success of your students in a simulation exercise. As a general rule of thumb, we have found that the best ratio of preparation to simulation is approximately 1:1 – a one-day exercise can generally be adequately prepped in 1 day, a more complex simulation lasting for several weeks may require several weeks of preparation. Much of this preparation can be assigned outside of class time in the form of research papers, readings, or team meetings, however. Simulation teams should spend time together in meetings to work through their strategies and tactics. This helps in their overall preparation (content and specific role information) and allows them to construct a single team approach for the exercise. It also gives them a chance to hone their group work skills, by forcing them to reach consensus as a team prior to the start of the exercise. To be effective in a simulation, a team must "speak with one voice" and maintain a consistent approach to other teams regardless of who is involved in an interaction at a given time. This internal team negotiation, often referred to as a "two-level game" is a key learning outcome for team-based simulations and also helps prepare students for their future careers. 8

Authors: Wedig, Tim.
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from. However, there is also a great deal of value to a short and clearly delineated
exercise – particularly when the intent is to emphasize a few specific points. For
example, crisis negotiations are best taught in a short and intense simulation in which
decisions must be made quickly and without a great deal of information.
Pre-simulation student preparation
Once a simulation exercise has been selected, ample time should be allocated for
student preparation, including introducing the content and format but also setting
expectations and allowing time for research and team meetings. Whenever possible,
students should be encouraged to connect course content with negotiation outcomes in
the lead up to the exercise. This approach encourages active learning in the pre-
simulation phase by allowing students to apply knowledge to a concrete task, and also
increases the likelihood that they will be well-prepared for the exercise itself.
There are many ways to accomplish this, and this decision should be guided by
considerations of how your content fits within the framework of the exercise (and vice-
versa). One effective approach is to link the issues in the simulation exercise with course
contents in discrete units. As seen in the sample syllabus (Appendix I), the issue areas in
the simulation can become an organizational tool for course content. Having students
give classroom presentations on this content, particularly if done from the perspective of
their assigned role, can further increase their learning. Another approach is to integrate
simulation preparation into class written assignments and tests. Assignments and tests
that include simulation-specific material serve to emphasize the importance of the
exercise as well as increase preparation opportunities. These two options are not
mutually exclusive, and in fact complement each other very well.
Depending on your particular situation, it may not be possible or desirable to
create a course that revolves around a simulation exercise. This is particularly the case
for instructors new to simulation. However, some level of integration of content and
simulation is important for the success of your students in a simulation exercise. As a
general rule of thumb, we have found that the best ratio of preparation to simulation is
approximately 1:1 – a one-day exercise can generally be adequately prepped in 1 day, a
more complex simulation lasting for several weeks may require several weeks of
preparation. Much of this preparation can be assigned outside of class time in the form of
research papers, readings, or team meetings, however.
Simulation teams should spend time together in meetings to work through their
strategies and tactics. This helps in their overall preparation (content and specific role
information) and allows them to construct a single team approach for the exercise. It also
gives them a chance to hone their group work skills, by forcing them to reach consensus
as a team prior to the start of the exercise. To be effective in a simulation, a team must
"speak with one voice" and maintain a consistent approach to other teams regardless of
who is involved in an interaction at a given time. This internal team negotiation, often
referred to as a "two-level game" is a key learning outcome for team-based simulations
and also helps prepare students for their future careers.
8


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