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Didactic Games: Simulation

A simulation, or 'imitation of reality', is a 'didactic game' designed to help learners improve a chosen range of skills, apply practical knowledge in 'real' situations, safely make mistakes in an exercise model and learn from them. Based on the experiences of practitioners in a Polish secondary school, this is a reflection on 'simulations' which offers practical advice for those interested in designing and using them as a means of developing students' entrepreneurship and enterprise skills.

Purpose and process

Running a simulation is about providing a planned opportunity for students to engage with social and/or economic reality, to take risks in a supported context and to have time to reflect on their own and others' actions - and what may happen as a result of those actions. There are many different forms: for example, an acted-out scenario, a computer game set in a virtual environment, or a simple card game. Topics that might be covered in a simulation include: how a barter economy works; how a company operates; basic market mechanisms such as supply and demand, customer service or competition.

Some practical pointers for effective simulations:

  1. Make sure you designate simulation 'observers' who follow the action whilst writing comments against an agreed set of criteria; they need to be briefed on these criteria before the start of the simulation. In this way, participants can be given feedback afterwards on the actual consequences resulting from any decisions made during the simulation.
  2. Pay close attention to working out the simulation script/scenario: write out each role, giving detailed and unambiguous instructions on how they should be played out; match each element which simulates reality and remember to prepare any 'accessories' which participants will need in order to fulfil their role.
  3. Determine the rules and the level of complexity of the simulation, e.g. are there any restrictions regarding what participants must/must not do; do they have to follow a set sequence of events and/or a set script or can they use their own imagination?
  4. Ensure participants are allowed an adequate length of time to act out all stages of the simulation plus time to discuss what has happened and draw out any conclusions.
  5. To sum up: when each participant 'leaves his/her role', they should have the opportunity to reflect and analyze what happened - to talk over with other participants, teachers and other observers, the important situations, emotions and factors which affected how they played out their specific role.

Learning outcomes

Simulations are practical exercises in which students can:

  • Build 'emotional engagement' and understanding with people and situations different to their own through taking on and identifying with different roles and responsibilities with which they may be less familiar
  • Verify already acquired knowledge and take in new knowledge, thereby detecting the need to create new skills
  • Comfortably interpret situations, help to pave the course of proceedings, and search for and apply possible solutions to a problem, based on obtained information, own knowledge, and experience
  • Think independently, associate, familiarise with abstractions, recognise similarities and make connections by referring back to one's prior knowledge
  • Apply the obtained knowledge in practical situations
  • Develop vital entrepreneurial skills, including: creative thinking; decision-making; the ability to form different solutions to problems; the ability to judge one's own actions and make conclusions based on experience.

Curricular or thematic relevance

Simulations and other didactic games can be used in many subjects: social studies, business management, history, languages, literacy, geography, computer science or mathematics. They are useful during interest discussion circles, extra-curricular educational workshops and integration trips – during which there are no time limits.

How to organise:

Can be used in timetabled lessons (though some debriefing discussion may roll over to the following lesson) but usually takes place in suspended timetable time or as an extra-curricular activity

Assessment and evaluation approaches

The final stage of the simulation - the time when participants can reflect on and discuss what happened during the activity - provides an excellent opportunity for teachers to analyse learning through comparing the simulation to what happens in the real world. In this way, they can assess what new knowledge, skills and understanding has been acquired through the experience, both for individuals and as a whole group, and what already existed but may not have been recognised previously.

Volunteer involvement

External partners, especially employers with specialist knowledge, would be useful for acting as advisers and observers who can feed back to students after the simulation has taken place

Additional comments

The didactic game is a simulation which can be presented in an electronic version (with various levels of difficulty), or on simple cards. For example: how barter economy works, complex simulation games such as how companies work or presentation of basic market mechanisms such as supply and demand, or competition. Identifying oneself with specific roles causes the participant to be engaged emotionally, which causes him/her to effectively verify already acquired knowledge and take in new knowledge. It detects the need to create skills. Based on already gained experience, it judges actions, decision making and forming conclusions.

Provider country

Poland

helper do TM detail body (June 6th, 1st half)

    Inga_R
27.02.2014

I think games and simulations is one of better methods for entrepreneurship education because it develop managerial skills, cooperation skills, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

 

    aczarli
28.02.2014

This tool gives the opportunity to try various activities in a safe surrounding, very close to the real world. It is a very useful tool and student friendly.

 

    Victor
28.02.2014

Simulations include a very wide range of activities that can be implemented also in formal(as curricular or extra-curricular activities) and non-formal educational context. Actually, they are used more often in non-formal educational context. I used market simulation, showing the demand and supply law, and also I used business simulation - training firms. The method is quite effectiv in entrepreneurship education. Through it, the students can develop managerial skills, team work skills and their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Average score
Total number of reviews so far: [ 3 ]

The latest review

Simulations include a very wide range of activities that can be implemented also in formal(as curricular or extra-curricular activities) and non-formal educational context. Actually, they are used more often in non-formal educational context. I used market simulation, showing the demand and supply law, and also I used business simulation - training firms. The method is quite effectiv in entrepreneurship education. Through it, the students can develop managerial skills, team work skills and their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Victor 28.02.2014

helper do TM detail right side (TM June 6th, 2nd half)


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