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Making the Court Come to Life: Developing Effective Judicial Politics Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  An interpersonal simulation creates a scenario in which students act and react as if they were genuine players in the system…. In contract, a large system simulation creates a more complex context in which students analyze information, make decisions, and evaluate outcomes. The emphasis, instead of being on individual behavior, in on the aggregate (p. 253). As such, a judicial simulation can promote and advance structural knowledge about the state and/or national judiciaries, even as students learn about and navigate the complex personalities that populate the judicial branch. The disadvantages of simulation/role play Despite widespread recognition that simulations are valuable learning experiences, political science faculty are likely to confront several important challenges. Most notably, classroom simulations require extensive preparation above and beyond other classroom pedagogies. A simulation will only be successful if the students have the proper information and training to effectively participate. Two factors may make this particularly difficult: (1) the complexity of the situation or institution that is being simulated, and (2) the size of the class. Complex situations or institutions force the students and the professor to differentiate many different roles. This specialization will necessitate extra preparation and individualized work with students, as any one weakness may undermine the class experience. As one example, legislative simulations are often difficult due to the intricacies of the legislative process and the small size of upper level seminars (Ciliotta-Rubery and Levy 2000, Dolan and Ezra 2001). For those in the area of judicial politics, pedagogies like Supreme Court simulations may be more manageable. As a general rule, a Supreme Court simulation will require no more than 11 students, and any one actor within the simulation will have similar informational needs, as all students will be focused on a single limited set of case facts.

Authors: Caufield, Rachel.
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An interpersonal simulation creates a scenario in which students act and react as if
they were genuine players in the system…. In contract, a large system simulation
creates a more complex context in which students analyze information, make
decisions, and evaluate outcomes. The emphasis, instead of being on individual
behavior, in on the aggregate (p. 253).
As such, a judicial simulation can promote and advance structural knowledge about the state
and/or national judiciaries, even as students learn about and navigate the complex personalities
that populate the judicial branch.
The disadvantages of simulation/role play
Despite widespread recognition that simulations are valuable learning experiences,
political science faculty are likely to confront several important challenges. Most notably,
classroom simulations require extensive preparation above and beyond other classroom
pedagogies. A simulation will only be successful if the students have the proper information and
training to effectively participate. Two factors may make this particularly difficult: (1) the
complexity of the situation or institution that is being simulated, and (2) the size of the class.
Complex situations or institutions force the students and the professor to differentiate
many different roles. This specialization will necessitate extra preparation and individualized
work with students, as any one weakness may undermine the class experience. As one example,
legislative simulations are often difficult due to the intricacies of the legislative process and the
small size of upper level seminars (Ciliotta-Rubery and Levy 2000, Dolan and Ezra 2001).
For those in the area of judicial politics, pedagogies like Supreme Court simulations may
be more manageable. As a general rule, a Supreme Court simulation will require no more than
11 students, and any one actor within the simulation will have similar informational needs, as all
students will be focused on a single limited set of case facts.


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