Role-play simulations as an aid to achieve complex learning outcomes in hydrological science

Bring, Arvid; Lyon, Steve W.

Students in hydrology are expected to become proficient in a set of quantitative skills while also acquiring the ability to apply their problem-solving abilities in real-life situations. To achieve both these types of learning outcomes, there is broad evidence that activity-based learning is beneficial. In this paper, we argue that role-play simulations in particular are useful for achieving complex learning outcomes, i.e., making students able to coordinate and integrate various analytical skills in complicated settings. We evaluated the effects of an integrated water resources management (IWRM) negotiation simulation next to more traditional teaching methods intended to foster quantitative understanding. Results showed that despite similar student-reported achievement of both complex and quantitative intended learning outcomes, the students favored the negotiation simulation over the traditional method. This implies that role-play simulations can motivate and actively engage a classroom, thereby creating a space for potential deeper learning and longer retention of knowledge. While our findings support the utility of simulations to teach complex learning outcomes and indicate no shortcoming in achieving such outcomes next to traditional methods aimed at quantitative learning outcomes, simulations are still not widely used to foster activity-based learning in the classroom. We thus conclude by presenting three particularly challenging areas of role-play simulations as learning tools that serve as potential barriers to their implementation and suggest ways to overcome such roadblocks.



Bring, Arvid / Lyon, Steve W.: Role-play simulations as an aid to achieve complex learning outcomes in hydrological science. 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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Rechteinhaber: Arvid Bring

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