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Simulations and Games







Simulations allow learners the opportunity to model, explore, and try out a variety of strategies. Role playing is a learning experience where students collaboratively invent, experiment, and practice interpersonal skills in a relatively low risk environment. Games and simulations differ in important ways, although contexts may overlap.
(Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock,2001)
This definition can be broken down further to describe how students can learn from simulations.

  • Simulations, no one "wins" and participants role-play experiences that result in their character suffering or benefiting from decisions and actions. (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock,2001)
  • Simulations are multi-modal and non-linear, branching into scenarios based on user choice. (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock,2001)
  • Simulations are structured by authentic rules that mirror actual results.(Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock,2001)

This definition can be broken down further to describe how students can learn from simulations-

  • Experimental simulations provide learners the opportunity to engage in situations that would otherwise be too hazardous or cost prohibitive to conduct in the classroom. (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock,2001)
  • Symbolic simulations dynamically represent the behavior of a population, system, or set of processes. Symbolic simulations allow students to discover and explain scientific relationships, predict events, and learn procedural skills. (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock,2001)


Serious Games- A new term for games that are applied to "serious" goals instead of entertainment. Bringing gaming technology to fields such as education, policy development, and leadership.(Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock,2001)




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Implementation of Simulations and Games Strategy.

  • Incorporate simulations into curriculum. Explore online simulations that offer skill or conceptlearning
  • Simulations support related research recommendations. View the incorporation of simulations into the curriculum through the lens of other related-research based strategies. Providing feedback, setting objectives, nonlinguistic representation, and homework and practice are strategies that simulation support.

  • Use dynamic simulations to model complex systems. Help students understand systems and variables by using software that allows students to see the impact of change. These tools are strategies that simulations support.
  • Teach cooperative learning skills through role-playing simulations. Role-playing can provide important opportunities to learn and practice skills when performing cooperative learning group. Individual and small group skills can improve with teaching and practice, which in turn impacts the success of cooperative learning.
  • Foster meta- cognitive awareness. Games and simulations offer students a chance to "get outside themselves". Introduce students the concept of "watching yourself act" as a way to raise awareness of important meta-cognitive processes. Students can learn to be more self-reflective when engaged in a simulation or game.
  • (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock,2001)













Games and modeling activities can elicit curiosity, create a demand for knowledge, and enable students to discover knowledge through exploration (Edelson, 1998)