is a form of experiential learning. Simulations are instructional
scenarios where the learner is placed in a "world" defined
by the teacher. They represent a reality within which students interact.
The teacher controls the parameters of this "world" and
uses it to achieve the desired instructional results. Simulations
are in way, a lab experiment where the students themselves are the
test subjects. They experience the reality of the scenario and gather
meaning from it. It is a strategy that fits well with the principles
promote the use of critical and evaluative thinking. The ambiguous
or open ended nature of a simulation encourages students to contemplate
the implications of a scenario. The situation feels real and thus
leads to more engaging interaction by learners. They are motivating
activities enjoyed by students of all ages.
take a number of forms. They may contains elements of a game, a
role-play, or an activity that acts as a metaphor. The chief element
is that they have context. Board games such as Monopoly or Careers
are a type of simulation. The primary distinctions between a game
and a "sim" are the nonlinear nature and the controlled
ambiguity. Students must make decisions within its context. Success
is usually determined by the industry and commitment of the participants.
The goal is not to win but to acquire knowledge and understanding.
of reality is compatible with principles of constructivism
Enhances appreciation of the more subtle aspects of a concept/principle
Promotes critical thinking
Cost can be an issue
Assessment is more complex than some traditional teaching methods
is its purpose?
promote concept attainment through experiential practice. Simulations
are effective at helping students understand the nuances of a concept
or circumstance. Students are often more deeply involved in simulations
than other activities. Since they are living the activity the opportunity
exists for increased engagement.
from Social Studies for example, such as the management of the environment,
politics, community, and culture can be more deeply appreciated
through simulations. Similar to labs in a science class, the process
itself educates the students. The goal of a sim may be singular
or multifaceted. Students might be expected to gain an understanding
of inequity in society while participating in a resource distribution
activity. A class gains an understanding of the Canadian political
system via a mock election campaign. Simulations can reinforce other
skills indirectly. Debating, a method associated with some large
scale sims, is a skill sharpened within this context. Research skills
are often applied to an activity.
do I do it?
by a set of parameters, students undertake to solve problems, adapt
to issues arising from their scenario, and gain an awareness of
the unique circumstances that exist within the confines of the simulation.
Some simulations require one day, others may take weeks to complete.
Scope and content varies greatly. This being true, specific guidelines
change with the activity. Several principles however apply to all.
that students understand the procedures before beginning. It improves
efficacy if the students can enjoy uninterrupted participation.
Frustration can arise with too many uncertainties. This will be
to anticipate questions before they are asked. The pace of some
simulations is quick and the sense of reality is best maintained
with ready responses. Monitor student progress.
what you wish to accomplish. Many simulations can have more than
one instructional goal. Developing a rubric for evaluation is
a worthwhile step. If appropriate, students should be made aware
of the specific outcomes expected of them.
can I adapt it?
can typically be adapted internally to address the specific circumstances
of the students and class environment. They can also be offered
as a replacement for other teaching strategies thus themselves being
for enrichment or modification exists. A Social Studies resource
simulation can be adapted to fit a unit in Language Arts. The grade
6 and 7 themes of survival can be drawn out from the need to struggle
to obtain limited resources. There are at least 3 ways simulations
can be used and internally adapted to classrooms.
- the arc of the activity can be adjusted.
- some simulations offer content more appropriate to specific
ages. The election simulation listed in teacher resources, for
example, has 3 separate scenarios. Each possesses a similar theme
but the content allows the unit to be used from Gr. 5 to 12. See
the teacher resource page for details.
- Not all students appreciate the subtleties of a concept as well
as others. Rubrics can be developed to help the teacher determine
the level of success.
nature of simulations mean that experiences are more real than some
other techniques. Their drawback can be the assessment. Teachers
must monitor the process to ensure that students both understand
the process and are benefiting from it. For this reason, it is very
helpful to develop a rubric as a guide. Simulations are often best
used as part of the process of learning rather than a summative
measure of it. Follow-up activities may be helpful to establish
a measure of comprehension. Some prepackaged simulations include
assessment suggestions. See the resource page for examples. Listed
below are a number of rubrics to use as samples and an interesting
may ask themselves a number of questions to assess the simulation
and its apparent success.
this simulation offer an appropriate measure of realism for my
group of students?
the desired instructional outcomes well defined?
the level of ambiguity manageable for this group?
the student demonstrate an understanding of his/her role?
problem solving techniques in evidence?
the research being generated match the nature of the problem?
cooperation between participants in evidence?
the student been able to resolve the issue satisfactorily?
the student provide meaningful answers to probing questions?
follow-up activities be necessary?
this link to a description
of a selection of simulations. Several have materials which are
immediately available for download and implementation.