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. By taking on a given role in the simulation, students are not only challenged to apply their learning in a meaningful context, they must also embody a perspective different from their own. 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 for others.
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 perspectives of a particular person, which helps them understand the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of others. This ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes helps them develop greater empathy for others. 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, discuss, 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).
Example Global Competence Frameworks
Example Global Issues
Toolkits and Online Collaboration Spaces
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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).
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