Following my interest in improving the way we engage undergraduate students, I have been developing two research notes. Both concern ways in which gamification can facilitate learning so that students take the step from knowing information to internalizing the course material. Simulations have gained increasing popularity, with good reason. They are excellent activities which I incorporate into almost all of my classes. The manuscripts below focus on two other techniques that access a different approach to gamification.
The first utilizes Twine - a free and accessible tool to develop interactive stories. The second suggests one method that may help students empathize with some elements of human insecurity, particularly during conflict, from a safe and still relatively detached virtual environment.
Description: Political science often asks us, as scholars, to explore how individuals and states make decisions. Translating these processes, not just transferring information about these processes - challenges undergraduate instructors to find new pedagogies that supplement lecture. Game-based learning strategies offer a substantive method to enhance student engagement and develop practical skills within instructor-designed immersive scenarios. One common example is a simulation activity in which students act out particular roles according to a set of pre-determined interests and conflicts. Such an activity allows students to learn dynamic decision-making in response to other peers' actions. In this way, the outcome develops as a collaborative game involving the entire class. Due to its scope, however, simulations ignore the private decision-making that often occurs within more limited environments and still influences political behavior, such as spur-of-the-moment decisions soldiers make in the climate of wartime hostilities or diplomatic compromises between leaders and their advisors.
In this paper, I suggest that Twine, a tool for developing dynamic stories, can help instructors fill this gap in translating private decision-making processes through a game-based learning strategy. Following a deeper discussion concerning the value of game-based learning strategies and the need for tools that simulate private decision-making, I explore the utilities Twine offers instructors, to include its financially-friendly free and open source platform. I conclude with a qualitative analysis of a Twine activity I conducted during my International Humanitarian Law class to help students internalize the difficulties soldiers face in applying a distinction between military personnel and civilians during civil conflict.
Using Twine to Simulate Dynamic Decision-Making