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Effects of a Simulation on Exam Scores and Teaching Evaluation Results
Unformatted Document Text:  facilitates the formation of abstract generalizations that students can test both against their experience in the simulation and against new circumstances inside and outside the classroom. This active, experiential mode of learning, outlined by Kolb (1984) in his interpretation of social psychologist Kurt Lewin’s model of action research and laboratory training, is believed to be better than passive learning at creating effective thinkers (Dorn 1989, 6; Brock and Cameron 1999, 254; Shellman 2001, 827; Freitas 2006, 349). Retention of information, the acquisition of problem-solving skills, and the understanding of abstract concepts are thought to be better with simulations than with traditional lectures and note-taking (Pace et al. 1990, 63; Smith and Boyer 1996, 690), and simulations are also believed to generate greater student motivation and effort despite the often large amount of work involved (Hensley 1993, 67; Freitas 2006, 348). Because of higher levels of motivation and effort, students supposedly attribute greater academic benefit to simulations than to passive pedagogical methods, which in turn may produce a beneficial effect on student evaluations of the course and the instructor (Rodgers 1996, 221; Dorn 1989, 6). Greater effort, interest, retention, and understanding among students should also generate better academic performance in the course. Given the use of role-playing simulations and other active learning exercises over a period of decades, there is a surprising lack of empirical evidence on their classroom utility. Studies frequently claim that particular active learning strategies are superior to traditional instructional approaches but lack supporting quantitative or qualitative data (Bonwell and Eison 1991, 5). Simulations of all types “are rarely properly validated to determine whether/when they achieve their desired purposes or alternatively lead to dangerous or counterproductive outcomes” (Mandel 1987, 339), and claims of their pedagogical effectiveness often consist, at least in part,

Authors: Raymond, Chad.
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facilitates the formation of abstract generalizations that students can test both against their
experience in the simulation and against new circumstances inside and outside the classroom.
This active, experiential mode of learning, outlined by Kolb (1984) in his interpretation of social
psychologist Kurt Lewin’s model of action research and laboratory training, is believed to be
better than passive learning at creating effective thinkers (Dorn 1989, 6; Brock and Cameron
1999, 254; Shellman 2001, 827; Freitas 2006, 349).
Retention of information, the acquisition of problem-solving skills, and the understanding
of abstract concepts are thought to be better with simulations than with traditional lectures and
note-taking (Pace et al. 1990, 63; Smith and Boyer 1996, 690), and simulations are also believed
to generate greater student motivation and effort despite the often large amount of work involved
(Hensley 1993, 67; Freitas 2006, 348). Because of higher levels of motivation and effort,
students supposedly attribute greater academic benefit to simulations than to passive pedagogical
methods, which in turn may produce a beneficial effect on student evaluations of the course and
the instructor (Rodgers 1996, 221; Dorn 1989, 6). Greater effort, interest, retention, and
understanding among students should also generate better academic performance in the course.
Given the use of role-playing simulations and other active learning exercises over a
period of decades, there is a surprising lack of empirical evidence on their classroom utility.
Studies frequently claim that particular active learning strategies are superior to traditional
instructional approaches but lack supporting quantitative or qualitative data (Bonwell and Eison
1991, 5). Simulations of all types “are rarely properly validated to determine whether/when they
achieve their desired purposes or alternatively lead to dangerous or counterproductive outcomes”
(Mandel 1987, 339), and claims of their pedagogical effectiveness often consist, at least in part,


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