Increasing Student Engagement in Learning through Role-Play: Reacting to the Past

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Curriculum and Instruction | Higher Education and Teaching


We'd all like our students to be passionate about learning and to willingly take on responsibility for what goes on in the classroom. Reacting to the Past is an active learning pedagogy consisting of intense role-playing games developed by academic experts in their fields. Students debate specific controversies informed by context and by an intensive reading of texts. In the process they learn content as well as develop their critical thinking faculties, discussion skills, and persuasive writing skills. AND they think it's fun! They research their positions beyond what's required, they discuss ideas on the Link, in the dining halls, and in their dorms, and they initiate and direct discussion in the classroom. The Trial of Galileo, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the French Revolution, Shakespeare and Marlow in 1592, the controversy over evolution and intelligent design, acid rain in international debates from 1979-1989, and Athenian democracy in 403 BC are just some of the role-playing games recently or soon to be published for university classroom use. This Thursday Forum presentation on Reacting to the Past includes a short video featuring CSB/SJU students engaged in playing several of the games and discussion about how the games can be used by faculty in all divisions.

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