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Teaching American Political Institutions Using Role-playing Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  29 48.1 percent said they were used just about the right amount. 12 One student chose ―other,‖ noting that he or she couldn’t remember how often we used these exercises but that they did help. In the second question, I asked students approximately what percentage of their political science classes at Berkeley utilized role-playing simulations. The majority, 52 percent, said that only 0-25% of their classes utilized them, 26 percent said that they were used in 25-50% of their classes, 11 percent said they were used in 50-75% of their classes, and 11 percent said they were used in 75-100% of their classes. Although the small sample size of this survey makes it difficult to generalize beyond my two classes, the data do suggest that role-playing exercises can be an effective technique in helping students learn about political science. Additionally, students really seem to enjoy participating in role-playing simulations, especially when they are well-designed. In the future, I hope to conduct further research on the effectiveness of role-playing simulations, using pre- and post-test surveys, as well as a long-term survey of knowledge retention. CONCLUSIONS In closing, in this paper, I have attempted to demonstrate that role-playing simulations are an essential technique in any professor’s teaching repertoire. Role-playing simulations, I argue, are especially useful for teaching students about the dynamic interaction between organizationally-defined roles and the internal processes of the central American political institutions. Although this paper focused primarily on Congress, role-playing simulations can be effective in teaching students about all types of political institutions, including political parties, interest groups, the presidency, the Executive Office of the President, the courts, and the bureaucracy. Finally, using survey data, I was able to demonstrate, at least in the case of the 12 One student chose ―Other‖ and said, ―I don't remember how often we held these exercises but I do think that they helped.‖

Authors: Gonzales, Angelo.
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29
48.1 percent said they were used just about the right amount.
12
One student chose ―other,‖
noting that he or she couldn’t remember how often we used these exercises but that they did
help. In the second question, I asked students approximately what percentage of their political
science classes at Berkeley utilized role-playing simulations. The majority, 52 percent, said that
only 0-25% of their classes utilized them, 26 percent said that they were used in 25-50% of their
classes, 11 percent said they were used in 50-75% of their classes, and 11 percent said they were
used in 75-100% of their classes.
Although the small sample size of this survey makes it difficult to generalize beyond my
two classes, the data do suggest that role-playing exercises can be an effective technique in
helping students learn about political science. Additionally, students really seem to enjoy
participating in role-playing simulations, especially when they are well-designed. In the future, I
hope to conduct further research on the effectiveness of role-playing simulations, using pre- and
post-test surveys, as well as a long-term survey of knowledge retention.
CONCLUSIONS
In closing, in this paper, I have attempted to demonstrate that role-playing simulations are
an essential technique in any professor’s teaching repertoire. Role-playing simulations, I argue,
are especially useful for teaching students about the dynamic interaction between
organizationally-defined roles and the internal processes of the central American political
institutions. Although this paper focused primarily on Congress, role-playing simulations can be
effective in teaching students about all types of political institutions, including political parties,
interest groups, the presidency, the Executive Office of the President, the courts, and the
bureaucracy. Finally, using survey data, I was able to demonstrate, at least in the case of the
12
One student chose ―Other‖ and said, ―I don't remember how often we held these exercises but I do think that they
helped.‖


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