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Adopting a blended learning approach to help promote student learning via a role-play simulation: Best practices from two longitudinal studies

Lunch and Learn Series

Dr. Matthew Schnurr
Department of International Development Studies

The use of role-play simulations in university classrooms has gained popularity as an effective and innovative form of active learning. Simulations have been shown to teach students a range of practical skills and relevant concepts in a format that is fun, engaging and educational. But the effectiveness of any simulation hinges on its ability to engage learners. This presentation shares empirical results from two longitudinal studies of role-play simulations utilized in large-scale undergraduate survey courses in the social sciences, both of which adhere to a blended learning model that combine online and in-person forums. Quantitative and qualitative data from the first simulation reveal that these immersive exercises enhanced knowledge acquisition, but negatively impacted skill development and student interest. Preliminary data from a second simulation investigate the potential for utilizing these learning activities within early-year pedagogy, as well as the potential value of integrating social media tools. 

Taken together, these results challenge our traditional understanding of simulation-based learning as a tool that simply enhances student interest. Adopting a blended learning approach that utilizes online technologies alongside preparatory learning and face-to-face interactions enhances immersive learning by forcing students to confront the real-life realities of international negotiation.  Such processes are often painstakingly slow, tedious, and unpredictable. They fail more than they succeed. Forcing to students to confront how international negotiations fail encourages them to ask deeper questions about why this is the case, and what can be done to change the status quo.

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This is the first session in the Lunch and Learn Series for faculty and administrative staff working in the online environment.  

Subsequent Sessions

Friday, November 10, 2017 Engaging Online Students with the "Discussion" Tool
Friday, December 8, 2017 Brad Wuetherick, Centre for Learning and Teaching
Friday, February 9, 2018  Keith Lawson, School of Information Management 
Friday, March 9, 2018   Matthew Numer, School of Heath and Human Performance
Friday, April 13, 2018  Darryl Eisan, School of Public Administration
Friday, May 11, 2018 TBA    




Halifax: Killam Library, Room B400

Truro (via video-conference): Cox Institute, Room 211




Michelle Soucy
Communications and Event Planning Officer
Centre for Learning and Teaching
Tel: (902) 494-6641
Email: clt@dal.ca