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Reacting to the Past: Extended Simulations and the Learning Experience in Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  “Very Much”) is higher for the Reacting classes then for the other seminars in 2007, but the kinds of significant differences I found in 2006 for both critical thinking and synthetic learning do not appear. I suspect this may be due to stronger student leadership in the Fall 2006 class, but this is speculative. At any rate, there is some evidence that the first and third hypotheses can be sustained, but only the second is strongly supported. Obviously, further research incorporating other Reacting classes is necessary. I am now preparing to conduct such a project at our institu- tion. Conclusion This study is concerned with Reacting games in a single class at the introductory level. The games, however, are complex enough to be used in a variety of different courses from senior honors seminars to the freshman course described here (see Anderson 2004 for an example of how the games can be used in a more advanced course). 7 However, they are not for everyone or for every situation. First, the games take more class time than most simulations. Not every course has three or four weeks to spare for a simulation, no matter how effective. Consequently, the games should be carefully matched to course objectives. Second, the games do not scale well. Unlike some simulations based on historical events (Newmann and Twigg 2000), Reacting games are not advisable in classes of over 30 students. Third, given the complexities involved in directing Reacting games, training for instructors planning to use them is imperative. While there are now national and regional (and some state) Reacting conferences available for training and expenses are minimal, some interested scholars may find the additional burdens too great. Fi- nally, as Dougherty (2003) cautions, a lack of student involvement and commitment can doom any simulation. Reacting games have many ways of drawing students into the process, but there 14

Authors: Lightcap, Tracy.
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“Very Much”) is higher for the Reacting classes then for the other seminars in 2007, but the
kinds of significant differences I found in 2006 for both critical thinking and synthetic learning
do not appear. I suspect this may be due to stronger student leadership in the Fall 2006 class, but
this is speculative. At any rate, there is some evidence that the first and third hypotheses can be
sustained, but only the second is strongly supported. Obviously, further research incorporating
other Reacting classes is necessary. I am now preparing to conduct such a project at our institu-
tion.
Conclusion
This study is concerned with Reacting games in a single class at the introductory level. The
games, however, are complex enough to be used in a variety of different courses from senior
honors seminars to the freshman course described here (see Anderson 2004 for an example of
how the games can be used in a more advanced course).
7
However, they are not for everyone or
for every situation. First, the games take more class time than most simulations. Not every course
has three or four weeks to spare for a simulation, no matter how effective. Consequently, the
games should be carefully matched to course objectives. Second, the games do not scale well.
Unlike some simulations based on historical events (Newmann and Twigg 2000), Reacting
games are not advisable in classes of over 30 students. Third, given the complexities involved in
directing Reacting games, training for instructors planning to use them is imperative. While there
are now national and regional (and some state) Reacting conferences available for training and
expenses are minimal, some interested scholars may find the additional burdens too great. Fi-
nally, as Dougherty (2003) cautions, a lack of student involvement and commitment can doom
any simulation. Reacting games have many ways of drawing students into the process, but there
14


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