The educator selects or creates a simulation designed to help students develop empathy. The educator facilitates student participation in the simulation and engages students in a reflective debrief of the experience.
A simulation is an instructional practice that engages students in a role-playing scenario. Each student takes on a given role, and together they participate in a simulated real-world event or activity. Simulations do not need to be complicated, but every student should have a role and the opportunity to participate in a sustained role-playing experience.
Simulations can be used to introduce a topic or launch a unit of study. For example, a study of immigration might begin with a simulation of the immigration process experienced by the millions of people who came through Ellis Island during its peak years. Roles could include immigration officers, doctors, legal inspectors, a currency exchange teller, ferry boat captain, and railroad ticket seller as well as individual immigrants, all with specific character profiles for students to inhabit. As another example, a landmine simulation could be used to introduce the global issue of landmines. Students would walk across a designated area and enact an assigned role of being injured, killed, or surviving to bring landmine statistics to life.
Simulations also work well as culminating experiences, challenging students to apply their learning in a meaningful context. For example, in a courtroom simulation students would play the roles of plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, witnesses, judge, and jury. Another example is a task force simulation where students take on the perspectives of different stakeholders coming together to discuss a significant issue or solve a problem.
Creating a classroom environment where diverse perspectives—especially those that are significantly different from the students’ own—are valued and integrated into the learning experience helps students develop empathy. Simulations give students the opportunity to take on the role of another person and embody a perspective different from their own, which helps them understand the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of others. Putting themselves in another person’s shoes, imagining what it would be like to experience the situation from that person’s perspective, and acting on those imagined thoughts and feelings helps students develop greater empathy. Simulations also require students to engage in collaboration and problem-solving, working together with students from various cultural backgrounds and learning about each other’s cultural norms in the process.
Empathy is a critical component of global competence (see the Resources section for more information). The ability to empathize with the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others is key to effective communication and collaboration. Given the complexities of life in a globalized society, where local actions have a global impact and the challenges we face can only be solved through cooperative action, empathy guides us to communicate and collaborate from a place of greater understanding and respect, for the good of all (see the Start Empathy Toolkit in the Resources section).
Classroom simulations are a best-practice pedagogical strategy that involve active, student-centered, and collaborative learning (Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde, 2005). As an example of project-based learning and assessment, simulations are highly motivating and engaging for students (Khattri, Kane, and Reeve, 1995).
A simulation is an authentic instructional method that engages students in the construction of knowledge (Newmann and Wehlage, 1993; Newmann, King, and Carmichael, 2007). Simulations provide an authentic learning environment where students are able to “explore, squareuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant to the learner” (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 1999). Simulations have been shown to have a positive effect on student learning and achievement (Hattie, 2009). They have also been shown to foster greater global citizenship in terms of cross-cultural understanding and awareness, responsibility for world problems, and trust in the international system (Myers, 2012).
Global competence refers to the knowledge, skills, and dispositions individuals need to be successful in today’s interconnected world and to be fully engaged in and act on issues of global significance. The Global Competence Task Force defined globally competent individuals as “those who use their knowledge and skills to investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, recognize their own and others’ perspectives, communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences, and translate their ideas into appropriate actions” (see link below).
The items in this following section detail what must be submitted for evaluation. To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 and a “Yes” for Part 2.
(500-word limit total):
Please submit a video or audio recording of students participating in the reflective debrief after the simulation (maximum length: three minutes) OR written reflections from three to five different students that demonstrate how your implementation of the simulation helped students develop greater empathy (maximum length: three pages).
(750-word limit total):
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