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Reacting to the Past: Extended Simulations and the Learning Experience in Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  defend ones position. All contribute to a need to develop teamwork and acquire the knowledge necessary for individual and faction defense against other interests. In this Reacting more closely resembles the environment of virtual worlds then usual simulations. How Reacting Worked in the Course Simulations involving complex roles and interactions over time are not unknown to political scientists, of course. Newman and Twigg’s (2000) simulation of the Kashmir crisis bears some resemblances to a Reacting game (detailed roles, required presentations at assemblies, teamwork, ect.); Pappas and Peaden’s (2004) simulation of senatorial campaigns takes place over six weeks. However, even these exemplary efforts do not reach the same level of complexity, length, and directed conflict as the Reacting games I choose for my course. To see why I feel confident mak- ing this statement, it might be best to present a detailed overview of how the games worked. I have now taught my interdisciplinary seminar on political order twice. Both classes were one of fourteen sections of the Cornerstone seminar taught at LaGrange College in the fall se- mesters of 2006 and 2007. 2 The first class had 18 students, the second 16, both roughly the op- timum sizes for Reacting games, although most games allow for up to 30 students. The first class was 61% male, 39% female, and 17% minority, the second was 65% male, 35% female, and 31% minority. This was roughly the same demographic breakdown as for all the Cornerstone sections combined in 2006 and 2007. In both courses, the two Reacting games took four weeks to com- plete each and fell into the same three phases. Since the games have been extensively tested and the time frames are set in the game script, staying on schedule was relatively easy. Phase 1: Initial Preparation 5

Authors: Lightcap, Tracy.
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defend ones position. All contribute to a need to develop teamwork and acquire the knowledge
necessary for individual and faction defense against other interests. In this Reacting more closely
resembles the environment of virtual worlds then usual simulations.
How Reacting Worked in the Course
Simulations involving complex roles and interactions over time are not unknown to political
scientists, of course. Newman and Twigg’s (2000) simulation of the Kashmir crisis bears some
resemblances to a Reacting game (detailed roles, required presentations at assemblies, teamwork,
ect.); Pappas and Peaden’s (2004) simulation of senatorial campaigns takes place over six weeks.
However, even these exemplary efforts do not reach the same level of complexity, length, and
directed conflict as the Reacting games I choose for my course. To see why I feel confident mak-
ing this statement, it might be best to present a detailed overview of how the games worked.
I have now taught my interdisciplinary seminar on political order twice. Both classes were
one of fourteen sections of the Cornerstone seminar taught at LaGrange College in the fall se-
mesters of 2006 and 2007.
2
The first class had 18 students, the second 16, both roughly the op-
timum sizes for Reacting games, although most games allow for up to 30 students. The first class
was 61% male, 39% female, and 17% minority, the second was 65% male, 35% female, and 31%
minority. This was roughly the same demographic breakdown as for all the Cornerstone sections
combined in 2006 and 2007. In both courses, the two Reacting games took four weeks to com-
plete each and fell into the same three phases. Since the games have been extensively tested and
the time frames are set in the game script, staying on schedule was relatively easy.
Phase 1: Initial Preparation
5


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