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Effects of a Simulation on Exam Scores and Teaching Evaluation Results
Unformatted Document Text:  The Effect of a Role-Playing Simulation on Exam Scores and Teaching Evaluations in an International Relations Course Chad Raymond Over three consecutive semesters, ninety students in four sections of an international relations course participated in a role-playing exercise that was designed to simulate a series of crises in the Middle East. During the same semesters, eighty-four students in three other sections of the same course did not participate in the simulation. This paper investigates whether participation in the role-playing simulation had any demonstrable effect on students’ exam scores or on their evaluations of the instructor’s teaching in the course. Role-playing simulations are frequently claimed to be a more effective instructional tool than traditional forms of teaching because they are thought to function as active, experiential learning exercises. With traditional pedagogical techniques, students must first passively receive information from texts or lectures before they have the opportunity to apply the information to actual situations. Due to the delay between students’ first encounters with new knowledge and its application, the relevance of and incentives for learning may not be apparent during much of the learning process (Dorn 1989, 6). In contrast, students who participate in simulations are thought to “experience institutional processes in ways that reading textbooks and listening to lectures may not allow” (Shellman 2001, 827), producing a “deeper level of insight into the political process” (Smith and Boyer 1996, 690) that demonstrates how the real world diverges from theoretical principles (Rodgers 1996, 222). Role-playing simulations supposedly immerse students in a concrete situation that requires their active participation, allowing them to immediately apply new knowledge and observe the consequences of their actions – a process that

Authors: Raymond, Chad.
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The Effect of a Role-Playing Simulation on Exam Scores and Teaching Evaluations in an
International Relations Course
Chad Raymond
Over three consecutive semesters, ninety students in four sections of an international
relations course participated in a role-playing exercise that was designed to simulate a series of
crises in the Middle East. During the same semesters, eighty-four students in three other sections
of the same course did not participate in the simulation. This paper investigates whether
participation in the role-playing simulation had any demonstrable effect on students’ exam scores
or on their evaluations of the instructor’s teaching in the course.
Role-playing simulations are frequently claimed to be a more effective instructional tool
than traditional forms of teaching because they are thought to function as active, experiential
learning exercises. With traditional pedagogical techniques, students must first passively receive
information from texts or lectures before they have the opportunity to apply the information to
actual situations. Due to the delay between students’ first encounters with new knowledge and
its application, the relevance of and incentives for learning may not be apparent during much of
the learning process (Dorn 1989, 6).
In contrast, students who participate in simulations are thought to “experience
institutional processes in ways that reading textbooks and listening to lectures may not
allow” (Shellman 2001, 827), producing a “deeper level of insight into the political
process” (Smith and Boyer 1996, 690) that demonstrates how the real world diverges from
theoretical principles (Rodgers 1996, 222). Role-playing simulations supposedly immerse
students in a concrete situation that requires their active participation, allowing them to
immediately apply new knowledge and observe the consequences of their actions – a process that


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