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Information Technology and International Relations: Using On Line, Interactive Simulations to Transcend Time, Space, and Attitudes
Unformatted Document Text:  While this is notable, it should not negate the usefulness of the control group for two reasons. First, while the readings were different in content, both assignments stressed the dangers associated with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and both involved the historical, strategic, and diplomatic context in which the disputant parties found themselves. Thus, both groups were exposed to written material and discussions about the crisis. Second, the difference in age and experience between sophomores in the control group and mostly juniors in the experiential group could be a contaminating factor. However, it should not so great a difference to abrogate the potential benefit of a control group, strengthening the reliability of the findings. Even in clinical trials involving medical research, the control and experimental groups are never identical. They are just as close as possible to permit reasonable comparison. Recognizing these methodological problems, one may consider this study a quasi-experiment, in which the control group provides some degree of comparison with the experimental group, despite differences in reading material and academic level. Simulating Decision Making During the Cuban Crisis of 1962 Students in an upper division (junior level) class constituted the experimental group and self-selected one of three teams: the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba. Within each team they self-selected decision making roles of characters involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis. On the American team, the roles included President Kennedy, the Vice President, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Under Secretary of State, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Assistant Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, Ambassador at Large, Director of the United States Information Agency, a Presidential assistant, and a political advisor. The Soviet team’s roles were Premier Khrushchev, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, Chief Theoretician to the Communist Party, Chairman of the Communist Party Military Affairs Committee, Director of the KGB, Commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, Politburo Member for Allied Relations, Ambassador to United States, Chief of Staff for the Soviet Armed Forces, and Secretary of the Communist Party Press and Propaganda organization. The Cuban team was smaller but had enough roles to permit small group deliberation. These included Fidel Castro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, Chairman of the Communist Party Committee for Defense of the Revolution, Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of Cuba, and Secretary of the Communist Party Press and Propaganda organization. Students read the book, One Hell of a Gamble: The Secret History of the Cuban Missile Crisis (Fursenko and Naftali, 1998) and spent three class sessions discussing the crisis. As part of their simulation experience, they wrote a brief paper described as a “subjective rather than objective effort” at research. They were instructed that the paper should not be a neutral, balanced report. Rather, students should present the paper from their simulated

Authors: Stover, William.
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While this is notable, it should not negate the usefulness of the control group for two
reasons. First, while the readings were different in content, both assignments stressed the
dangers associated with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and both involved the historical,
strategic, and diplomatic context in which the disputant parties found themselves. Thus,
both groups were exposed to written material and discussions about the crisis. Second,
the difference in age and experience between sophomores in the control group and mostly
juniors in the experiential group could be a contaminating factor. However, it should not
so great a difference to abrogate the potential benefit of a control group, strengthening the
reliability of the findings. Even in clinical trials involving medical research, the control
and experimental groups are never identical. They are just as close as possible to permit
reasonable comparison. Recognizing these methodological problems, one may consider
this study a quasi-experiment, in which the control group provides some degree of
comparison with the experimental group, despite differences in reading material and
academic level.

Simulating Decision Making During the Cuban Crisis of 1962
Students in an upper division (junior level) class constituted the experimental group and
self-selected one of three teams: the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba. Within
each team they self-selected decision making roles of characters involved in the Cuban
Missile Crisis. On the American team, the roles included President Kennedy, the Vice
President, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Under Secretary of State, Deputy Under
Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Assistant Secretary of
Defense, National Security Advisor, Ambassador at Large, Director of the United States
Information Agency, a Presidential assistant, and a political advisor.
The Soviet team’s roles were Premier Khrushchev, the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Minister of Defense, Chief Theoretician to the Communist Party, Chairman of the
Communist Party Military Affairs Committee, Director of the KGB, Commander of the
Strategic Rocket Forces, Politburo Member for Allied Relations, Ambassador to United
States, Chief of Staff for the Soviet Armed Forces, and Secretary of the Communist Party
Press and Propaganda organization.
The Cuban team was smaller but had enough roles to permit small group deliberation.
These included Fidel Castro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense,
Chairman of the Communist Party Committee for Defense of the Revolution, Chief of
Staff for the Armed Forces of Cuba, and Secretary of the Communist Party Press and
Propaganda organization.

Students read the book, One Hell of a Gamble: The Secret History of the Cuban Missile
Crisis
(Fursenko and Naftali, 1998) and spent three class sessions discussing the crisis.
As part of their simulation experience, they wrote a brief paper described as a “subjective
rather than objective effort” at research. They were instructed that the paper should not be
a neutral, balanced report. Rather, students should present the paper from their simulated


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