Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Student simulation enthusiasm: An accidental field experiment

OK, this wasn’t really a proper experiment. However, it does suggest how enthusiastic students can be about the opportunity to take part in a political science simulation.

Every year I run the Brynanian peacebuilding simulation in my POLI 450 class. Usually I  announce in class that students are now able to sign up for their simulation roles. This has the unfortunate effect of causing virtually the entire class to ignore my lectures for the next 15 minutes as they pull out their laptops and email me their SIM role preferences.

This year I thought I would get clever: SIM sign-ups would start at 7am on a non-class day—an hour alien to many students. In this way, I hoped, the small minority of super-keen students would wake up early to get first choice of simulation roles, while their sleepier colleagues would slowly email me their preferences during the rest of the day (or week). After all, they’ve got until the end of the month in which to choose.


I failed to allow for two things. The first was their technical skill—several simply set their email clients to mail me at 7am, while they might have been still snug in bed. Second, I clearly failed to account for their ruthless efficiency and almost fanatical devotion to simulated peacebuilding (or war-fighting). Some 45 students—almost half the class—emailed me between 7:00am and 7:01am. Two-thirds had emailed me before 8am.

So much for my cunning plan.


One response to “Student simulation enthusiasm: An accidental field experiment

  1. brant 11/02/2014 at 4:27 pm

    and you would’ve gotten away with it – if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!

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