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Using a Role-Playing Simulation to Bridge Theory and Practice in Graduate Professional Education
Unformatted Document Text:  Using a Role-Playing Simulation to Bridge Theory and Practice in Graduate Professional Education During the course of the 2007 Capstone simulation exercise, students were asked to keep a journal about the strategy of their team as well as their individual strategy in the simulation. They were also asked to write an “individual reflection” papers, which, for the most part, were about one page long (single-spaced). Most of the individual reflection papers contained an assessment of what they learned in the simulation as well as a critique of the exercise, itself. Because they were completely open-ended, we were not able to do a sophisticated statistical analysis of the comments and suggestions. Nevertheless, we did code for each student any references to learning outcomes that were similar to those described in the (June 2006) assessment document (see above). Although nearly half of the participants were from abroad, there were very few references in the reflection papers to the role of culture in conflict management and dispute resolution (Outcome 1). Surprisingly, only 9% percent of the participants made observations about cultural factors. For example, one student said, “Personally, I benefitted most from hearing the perspectives of people from other countries.” Many participants ( 28.8%) described some aspect of decision-making in their reflection papers, an activity that corresponds to Outcome 2, the “ability to identify relationships between policy options and interests with respect to problems in international affairs,” while 22% described a related activity, “leadership.” Another learning outcome, policy analysis (Outcome 3), was mentioned by 15.5% of the participants. Many of them did complain that they had no time to do any research or analysis, and one participant said that he “discovered that much of diplomacy is not structured and often cannot be analyzed in advance; in fact, national objectives are pursued often through the most improvised of decisions.” There were many references in the reflection papers to consensus building (Outcome 4), because most of the activity in the simulation consisted of building a common position and negotiating with other teams. 42.2% of the participants described consensus-building activities in their reflection papers and 37.7% mentioned negotiation. For example, one participant wrote that “I learned how difficult it is to reach an international consensus on issues.” Another one thought that “[the simulation] has taught me…how to negotiate to get your work done,” and someone else said that “negotiation skills [were] the biggest skill I learned from it.” Very few participants made a reference in their reflection papers to competence in presentation, which is learning Outcome 5. Nevertheless, one person remarked that this type of exercise was “useful for improvement of argumentation and persuasion skills in private conversations or in groups (true, some briefings and discussions looked like the UK Parliamentary debates).” 11

Authors: Bonham, G. Matthew.
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Using a Role-Playing Simulation to Bridge Theory and Practice in Graduate Professional Education
During the course of the 2007 Capstone simulation exercise, students were
asked to keep a journal about the strategy of their team as well as their individual
strategy in the simulation. They were also asked to write an “individual reflection”
papers, which, for the most part, were about one page long (single-spaced). Most
of the individual reflection papers contained an assessment of what they learned
in the simulation as well as a critique of the exercise, itself. Because they were
completely open-ended, we were not able to do a sophisticated statistical
analysis of the comments and suggestions. Nevertheless, we did code for each
student any references to learning outcomes that were similar to those described
in the (June 2006) assessment document (see above).
Although nearly half of the participants were from abroad, there were very few
references in the reflection papers to the role of culture in conflict management
and dispute resolution (Outcome 1). Surprisingly, only 9% percent of the
participants made observations about cultural factors. For example, one student
said, “Personally, I benefitted most from hearing the perspectives of people from
other countries.”
Many participants ( 28.8%) described some aspect of decision-making in their
reflection papers, an activity that corresponds to Outcome 2, the “ability to
identify relationships between policy options and interests with respect to
problems in international affairs,” while 22% described a related activity,
“leadership.”
Another learning outcome, policy analysis (Outcome 3), was mentioned by
15.5% of the participants. Many of them did complain that they had no time to do
any research or analysis, and one participant said that he “discovered that much
of diplomacy is not structured and often cannot be analyzed in advance; in fact,
national objectives are pursued often through the most improvised of decisions.”
There were many references in the reflection papers to consensus building
(Outcome 4), because most of the activity in the simulation consisted of building
a common position and negotiating with other teams. 42.2% of the participants
described consensus-building activities in their reflection papers and 37.7%
mentioned negotiation. For example, one participant wrote that “I learned how
difficult it is to reach an international consensus on issues.” Another one thought
that “[the simulation] has taught me…how to negotiate to get your work done,”
and someone else said that “negotiation skills [were] the biggest skill I learned
from it.”
Very few participants made a reference in their reflection papers to competence
in presentation, which is learning Outcome 5. Nevertheless, one person
remarked that this type of exercise was “useful for improvement of argumentation
and persuasion skills in private conversations or in groups (true, some briefings
and discussions looked like the UK Parliamentary debates).”
11


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