Simulation and Games

This instructional technique comes from CTLT’s Instructional Skills Workshop materials. How do you think this technique can and should be adapted to interdisciplinary learning contexts and content?

Simulations and Games

The participants are involved with a setting, objects, or people that mirror reality. The participants learn from the consequences of their actions. Simulations and games are effective ways to:

  • analyse an existing system
  • evaluate a model for a new system
  • provide a learning environment that represents a real-life situation and encourages learning

Instructor’s Role

The instructor sets his or her own criteria when analysing the various components of a simulation or game and the merits of its parts to the desired learning objective. Other factors to consider are those relating to the curriculum, the learners’ needs, and the management of the instructional setting. Questions an instructor keeps in mind are:

  • What is the problem?
  • What is the simulation designed to teach?
  • What choices are available to the players?
  • How long will the simulation or game take?
  • What are the rules?
  • What are the moves?
  • What preparations will be necessary?
  • Is this simulation or game playable by my students?

In using simulations or games, the instructor:

  • explains the rules of the simulation or game so activities can be carried out
  • gives illustrations of certain choices of action
  • referees or controls participation
  • encourages participants to reflect on their experiences

Learners’ Role

Students may learn about:

  • competition and tension by striving against obstacles toward some goal (the obstacle could be forces of nature)
  • the advantage of cooperation
  • empathy through understanding of the roles
  • concepts
  • how behaviour affects the environment
  • how the environment can be manipulated through action
  • the consequences of lack of skill or of poor judgment
  • the element of chance in the real world
  • alternate problem-solving strategies, other individuals’ responses, and the validity of the techniques in mirroring real life

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