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Making the Court Come to Life: Developing Effective Judicial Politics Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  Most undergraduate political science students are familiar with model UN or model EU programs from high school. For those students and professors interested in American politics, however, there are few widespread or institutionalized opportunities for simulation or role play experiences. 3 Nonetheless, the pedagogical advantages of simulations and role play in the political science classroom have been well documented. 4 Most notably, simulations allow students an active role in the accumulation of knowledge – that is, they must work through systems and processes that apply their knowledge directly to the situation at hand. This encourages original analysis and critical thinking as they respond to stimuli within the simulation, anticipate the actions of others, and react to their peers. Role play and simulation can also increase student motivation and interest in the topic, and improve the quality of class interaction and individual coursework (Walcott 1980). Simulations can also develop students’ reading, writing, and verbal skills. Good simulations, therefore, will ask students to engage in careful analysis of text, produce high quality written work appropriate to the situation being simulated, and effectively communicate with their peers. As Baker (1994) has noted, “mock trials” or courtroom simulations, can simultaneously engage students in a simulation of interpersonal relationships as well as large- system structural dynamics: 3 The one exception is the new Model U.S. House of Representatives program, which is a national simulation. See www.modelcongress.org for more information. Individual faculty members have, however, developed some interesting models of classroom simulations in American politics. See, for example, Endersby and Webber (1995) (iron triangle simulation), Kathlene and Choate (1999) (political campaign simulation), Josepson and Caseyn (1999) (issue networks simulation), Ciliotta-Rubery and Levy (2000) (congressional committee simulation), and Mariani (2007) (campaign simulation). For a more general discussion of role play and simulations in American politics courses, see Larson (2004). 4 See, for example, Walcott (1976; 1980). Role playing and simulations have been particularly popular among international relations scholars and teachers (Baker 1994), as exemplified by Jefferson (1999), Newmann and Twigg (2000), Ambrosio (2004), and Kanner (2007).

Authors: Caufield, Rachel.
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background image
Most undergraduate political science students are familiar with model UN or model EU
programs from high school. For those students and professors interested in American politics,
however, there are few widespread or institutionalized opportunities for simulation or role play
experiences.
Nonetheless, the pedagogical advantages of simulations and role play in the political
science classroom have been well documented.
Most notably, simulations allow students an
active role in the accumulation of knowledge – that is, they must work through systems and
processes that apply their knowledge directly to the situation at hand. This encourages original
analysis and critical thinking as they respond to stimuli within the simulation, anticipate the
actions of others, and react to their peers. Role play and simulation can also increase student
motivation and interest in the topic, and improve the quality of class interaction and individual
coursework (Walcott 1980).
Simulations can also develop students’ reading, writing, and verbal skills. Good
simulations, therefore, will ask students to engage in careful analysis of text, produce high
quality written work appropriate to the situation being simulated, and effectively communicate
with their peers. As Baker (1994) has noted, “mock trials” or courtroom simulations, can
simultaneously engage students in a simulation of interpersonal relationships as well as large-
system structural dynamics:
3
The one exception is the new Model U.S. House of Representatives program, which is a national simulation. See
for more information. Individual faculty members have, however, developed some
interesting models of classroom simulations in American politics. See, for example, Endersby and Webber (1995)
(iron triangle simulation), Kathlene and Choate (1999) (political campaign simulation), Josepson and Caseyn (1999)
(issue networks simulation), Ciliotta-Rubery and Levy (2000) (congressional committee simulation), and Mariani
(2007) (campaign simulation). For a more general discussion of role play and simulations in American politics
courses, see Larson (2004).
4
See, for example, Walcott (1976; 1980). Role playing and simulations have been particularly popular among
international relations scholars and teachers (Baker 1994), as exemplified by Jefferson (1999), Newmann and Twigg
(2000), Ambrosio (2004), and Kanner (2007).


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