General Information

Substantial empirical evidence indicates simulations, games, and role playing assignments enhance the classroom experience for both student and instructor (Michael 2006; Poling and Hupp 2009; Silvia 2010; Yoder and Hochevar 2005). The most effective simulations and games support larger course objectives and have a direct link to course material. Simulations and role playing exercises promote the application of knowledge, enhance critical thinking and problem solving skills, and develop in students a deeper understanding of complex decision making processes.

Simulations, games, and role playing assignments allow instructors to vary the classroom experience and provide students with different learning styles an opportunity to succeed (Asal and Blake 2006; Blumberg 2008; Hertel and Millis 2002; Glazier 2011; Wedig 2010). Others, however, are skeptical of the value of these types of active learning exercises (Faria and Wellington 2004; Killian and Brandon 2009; Powner and Allendoerfer 2008). Class time and preparation are two costs associated with these learning tools.


Active Learning in Political Science (ALPS) blog

The ALPS blog is designed to help educators build a repertoire of games and activities that they can use in their courses with a minimum of fuss, exchange information on active learning techniques, and promote the use of effective pedagogies in the political science classroom. 

How to do Simulation Games

Created by Simon Usherwood, University of Surrey, this website is a resource for those looking to use simulation games in their teaching, with a combination of theoretical and practical information.

Articles, Books, and Conference Papers

Archer, Candace C., and Melissa K. Miller. 2011. “Prioritizing Active Learning: An Exploration of Gateway Courses in Political Science.” PS: Political Science and Politics 44(2): 429-34. Abstract

Asal, Victor, and Elizabeth L. Blake. 2006. “Creating Simulations for Political Science Education.” Journal of Political Science Education 2(1): 1-18. Abstract

Asal, Victor, et al. 2013. “Editors' Introduction to the Thematic Issue: Bringing Interactive Simulations into the Political Science Classroom.” Journal of Political Science Education 9(2): 129-31.

Asal, Victor. 2012. "Active Learning Approaches to Teaching about Identity Salience." Paper presented at the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, Washington, DC, February 17-19. Contact

Balleck, Barry J. and Darin H. Van Tassell. 2004. “Making the World More Relevant for Students: Role Playing Exercises for the Classroom.” Politics and Policy 32(2): 345-381. Abstract

Baranowski, Michael, and Kimberly Weir. 2012. “Power and Politics in the Classroom: The Effect of Student Roles in Simulations.” Journal of Political Science Education 6(3): 217-26. Abstract

Bernstein, Jeffrey L., Sarah Scheerhorn, and Sara Ritter. 2002. “Using Simulations and Collaborative Teaching to Enhance Introductory Courses.” College Teaching 50(1): 9-12. Abstract

Brock, Kathy L., and Beverly J. Cameron. 1999. “Enlivening Political Science Courses with Kolb's Learning Preference Model.” PS: Political Science and Politics 32(2): 251-6. Abstract

Bromley, Pam. 2013. “Active Learning Strategies for Diverse Learning Styles: Simulations are Only One Method.” PS: Political Science and Politics 46(4): 818-22. Abstract

Brooker, Russell G. 1988. “Truth as a Variable: Teaching Political Strategy with Simulation Games.” Simulation and Gaming 19(1): 43-58. Abstract

Blumberg, Phyllis. 2008. Developing Lerner-Centered Teaching: A Practical Guide for Faculty. Indianapolis, IN: Jossey-Bass.

Chin, Jeffrey, Richard Dukes, and William Gamson. 2009. “Assessment in Simulation and Gaming: A Review of the Last 40 Years.” Simulation and Gaming 40(4): 553-568. Abstract

Cohen, Bernard C. 1962. “Political Gaming in the Classroom.” The Journal of Politics 24(2): 367-81. Abstract

Cohen, Mel. 1991. “Making Class Participation a Reality.” PS: Political Science and Politics 24(2): 699-703. Abstract

Dodge, Dorothy R. 1983. “Domestic Politics Games and Simulations: An Evaluation.” The Guide to Simulations/Games for Education and Training. Sage Publications.

Dolvin, Steven D., and Mark K. Pyles. 2011. “The Influence of Simulation Performance on Student Interest.” Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research 12(3): 35-48. Abstract

Dorn, Dean S. 1989. “Simulation Games: One More Tool on the Pedagogical Shelf.” Teaching Sociology 17(1): 1-18. Abstract

Fowler, Michael R. 2009. “Culture and Negotiation: The Pedagogical Dispute Regarding Cross-Cultural Simulations.” International Studies Perspectives 10(3): 341-359. Abstract

Frederking, Brian. 2005. “Simulations and Student Learning.” Journal of Political Science Education 1(3): 385-393. Abstract

Freitas, Sara I. de. 2006. “Using Games and Simulations for Supporting Learning.” Learning, Media and Technology 31(4): 343-358.

Glasgow, Sara M. 2012. “Stimulating Learning by Simulating Politics: Teaching Simulation Design in the Undergraduate Context.” International Studies Perspectives 1-13. Abstract

Glazier, Rebecca A. 2011. “Running Simulations without Ruining Your Life: Simple Ways to Incorporate Active Learning into Your Teaching.” Journal of Political Science Education 7(4): 375-393. Abstract

Grant, J. Tobin. 2004. Playing Politics. W.W. Norton. Abstract

Hensley, Thomas R., and Maureen Oakley. 1998. “The Challenge of the Large Lecture Class: Making it More Like a Small Seminar.” PS: Political Science and Politics 31(1): 47-51.

Hertel, John P., and Barbara Millis. 2002. Using Simulations to Promote Learning in Higher Education. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Huerta, Juan Carlos. 2007. “Getting Active in the Large Lecture.” Journal of Political Science Education 3(3): 251-64. Abstract

Jackson, Steven F. 2013. “Political Simulations Using Excel.” Journal of Political Science Education 9(2): 209-221. Abstract

Jenkins, Shannon. 2010. “Service Learning and Simulations.” PS: Political Science and Politics 43(3): 541-545. Abstract

Kahn, Melvin and Kathleen Perez. 2009. “The Game of Politics Simulation: An Exploratory Study.” Journal of Political Science Education 5(4): 332-349. Abstract

Killian, L.J., and Brandon, C.D. 2009. “Using the Significant Learning Taxonomy and Active Learning to Improve Accounting Education.” Journal of Faculty Development 23(3): 30-36. Abstract

Kollars, Nina A. 2012. "The Archeologist's Quandry." Paper presented at the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, Washington, DC, February 17-19. Contact

Lane, David C. 1995. “On a Resurgence of Management Simulations and Games.” The Journal of the Operational Research Society 46(5): 604-25. Abstract

McCarthy, J. Patrick, and Liam Anderson. 2000. “Active Learning Techniques versus Traditional Teaching Styles: Two Experiments from History and Political Science.” Innovative Higher Education 24(4): 279-94. Abstract

McMillan, Samuel Lucas. 2014. "Bravo for Brevity: Using Short Paper Assignments in International Relations Classes." International Studies Perspectives 15(1): 109-120. Abstract

Michael, Joel. 2006. “Where’s the Evidence that Active Learning Works?” Advances in Physiology Education 30(4): 159-167. Abstract

Mitchell, Gordon R. 2000. “Simulated Public Argument as a Pedagogical Play on Words.” Argumentation and Advocacy 36(3): 134-51.

Omelicheva, Mariya, and Olga Avdeyeva. 2008. “Teaching with Lecture or Debate? Testing the Effectiveness of Traditional Versus Active Learning Methods of Instructions.” PS: Political Science and Politics 41(3): 603-607. Abstract

Poling, D.A., and Hupp, J.M. 2009. “Active Learning through Role-Playing.” College Teaching 57(4): 221-226. Abstract

Powner, Leanne C., and Michelle G. Allendoerfer. 2008. “Evaluating Hypotheses about Active Learning.” International Studies Perspectives 9(1): 75-89. Abstract

Raines, Susan Summers. 2003. “The Potential Perils of Slack (not Pack) Pedagogy: A Response to J. Martin Rochester’s Remarks about Active Learning Strategies.” International Studies Perspectives 4(4): 432-435. Abstract

Raymond, Chad. 2012.“Do Role-Playing Simulations Generate Measureable and Meaningful Outcomes? A Simulation's Effect on Exam Scores and Teaching Evaluations.” International Studies Perspectives 11(1): 51-60. Abstract

Raymond, Chad. 2012. “Missing the Trees for the Forest?: Learning Environments Versus Learning Techniques in Simulations.” Journal of Political Science Education 4(3): 69-84. Abstract

Raymond, Chad, and Simon Usherwood. 2013. “Assessment in Simulations.” Journal of Political Science Education 9(2): 157-167. Abstract

Reuben, Brent D. 1999. “Simulations, Games and Experience-Based Learning: The Quest for a New Paradigm for Teaching and Learning.” Simulation and Gaming 30(4):498-505. Abstract

Rivera, Sharon Werning and Janet Thomas Simons. 2008. “Engaging Students through Extended Simulations.” Journal of Political Science Education 4(3): 298-316. Abstract

Rochester, J. Martin. 2003. “The Potential Perils of Pack Pedagogy, or Why International Studies Educators Should be Gun-Shy of Adopting Active and Cooperative Learning Strategies.” International Studies Perspectives 4(1): 432-435. Abstract

Ross, Jon. 2012. “Political Theater? The Value of Improvisation and Game-Playing.” Paper presented at the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, Washington, D.C., February 17-19. Abstract

Sasley, Brent E. 2010. “Teaching Students How to Fail: Simulations as Tools of Explanation.” International Studies Perspectives 11(1): 61-74. Abstract

Silvia, Chris. 2012. “The Impact of Simulations on Higher-Level Learning.” Journal of Public Affairs Education 18(2): 397-422. Abstract

Smith, Elizabeth T., and Mark A. Boyer. 1996. “Designing in-Class Simulations.” PS: Political Science and Politics 29(4): 690-4. Abstract

Stoil, Michael J. and James P. Lester. 1979. “Teaching Goals and Simulation Formats: A Typology.” Teaching Political Science 6(2): 151-165. Abstract

Sunderland, Sheri, Jonathan C. Rothermel and Adam Lusk. 2009. “Making Movies Active: Lessons from Simulations.” PS: Political Science & Politics 42(3): 543-547. Abstract

Usherwood, Simon. 2009. “Grounding Simulations in Reality: A Case Study from an Undergraduate Politics Degree.” On the Horizon 17(4): 296-302. Abstract

Wedig, Timothy. 2010. “Getting the most from Classroom Simulations: Strategies for Maximizing Learning Outcomes.” PS: Political Science and Politics 43(3): 547-55. Abstract

Yoder, Janice D., and Catherine M. Hochevar. 2005. “Encouraging Active Learning Can Improve Students' Performance on Examinations.” Teaching of Psychology 32: 91-5. Abstract