Are we having Fun? Simulation Games and Learning in the Social Sciences
This article explores those elements of learning that are enhanced through the use of the interactive, instructional resources such as simulation games, and how key elements in quality learning may be put at risk by their reduction or elimination. Qualitative and enduring learning has as its core two essential elements: the establishment of productive and respectful relationships among students and teachers, and the fostering of an environment where risk-taking, as well as reflection, can occur. Subjects in teaching are used to develop these aspects of education, and without opportunities for social interaction, competition as well as sharing, the ability to address diverse learning styles and provide opportunities for individual growth will be limited. The classroom use of simulation games is ideally suited to fostering these crucial educational components. The use of simulation games in the classroom can be instrumental in providing a comprehensive and learner-centered curriculum. These instructional approaches provide venues where students can interact with one another and share ideas. The Academic Content Standards for Social Studies in Ohio (where the author lives) list the following goals, all of which can be addressed with the proper integration of simulation games into the curriculum: Help students develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for themselves and for the common good; Prepare students for their role as citizens and decision makers in a diverse, democratic society; Enable students to learn about significant people, places, events and issues in the past in order to understand the present; Foster students’ ability to act responsibly and become successful problem solvers in an interdependent world of limited resources. Such concepts and goals are best taught over the long term, with a wide range of approaches. A classroom environment that encourages interaction amongst its members and exploration is ideal.
Keywords: Simulation Games, Student Teacher Relationship, Learner-Centered Curriculum
Instructor, Beeghly College of Education, Youngstown State University