TLC 2016: Highlights from the Simulations and Games Track

Most of the ALPS team reunites this weekend for the APSA’s Teaching and Learning Conference in Portland, Oregon. As usual, we are all on the Simulations and Games Track, sharing the latest on new games and simulations for teaching political science and discussing principles of design, evaluation, application, and assessment.

A few highlights so far:
–Victor Asal’s ‘Running Game’, which has students race to the front of the classroom facing an increased series of structural constraints (in the form of TAs given a head start). It’s a quick exercise that helps explore issues of structure, rational action, culture, and grievance.
–Michelle Allendoerfer worked with two undergraduates to create a multi-day comparative politics simulation looking at state building in a region of ethnic division and scarce resources.

–Nancy Wright of Long Island University-Brooklyn created some great simulation scenarios looking at issues of sustainability and indigenous rights in central and eastern africa.
–I discovered a new version of Zendo, the hypothesis-generation and -testing game I use in my research methods course, that requires no materials and works better for large groups of students. Instead of using plastic pyramid pieces, you construct rules using arrangements of 1s and 0s.  I think it will work even better in the classroom than the physical version.

–Great discussion regarding the use of fictional v. real world scenarios in simulations.  Regardless of which one is used, what is essential is a good debriefing session after gameplay, to connect students back to the content and give them a chance to exchange their thoughts on their shared experience.

And of course, Kim Kardashian has made several appearances, as has become tradition at these settings.

This afternoon, Victor and Simon will lead a workshop on games and simulations in comparative politics, and the ALPS team is going to gather for our first podcast.