Method Simulation
Simulation is an educational activity in which students experience a real work situation with the teaching staff member as a supervisor. They define a scenario and parameters of the procedure and ensure that students understand the tasks before beginning. It is a very general and flexible teaching approach that can be used in most disciplines. Simulation is a flexible activity with the scenario changing according to what happens along the way. Simulation provides experience as close to reality as possible.

Simulation differs from role play because it is very close to the real situation, while role play can use different metaphoric means, like for example role swapping, giving alter ego roles, playing the roles of objects, and so on.

Simulation and role play are teaching methods that help students understand the content of the lesson. Simulation is when students are assigned roles e.g. as buyers and sellers, advocates, nurses, sometimes in real-world environment (see the example from AHE,  where law faculty students work in a real court, creating a trial, involving real judges) while a role play is when students are acting as different characters, in the classroom..

Aim To gain knowledge and skills by interacting with a “real world” situation and environment.
Target group Students of any field of study
Intended learning outcomes
  • increased knowledge and skills through experiential practice
  • enhanced critical and evaluative thinking
  • more developed appreciation of community and culture
You as facilitator provide the situation scenario and the specific tasks to be simulated in a real work environment. It is up to you to find the working space. Students decide if they want to take part and which role they would like to take. One scenario we organised in AHE was a court trial using a real court location with students of the law faculty in the role of a prosecutor, defender, accused and witnesses.  The judge was a real one.  This provided a great opportunity for students’ work assessment as they had to convince the judge with their arguments. High school students of the law class made up the audience – which was agreed in advance. The case was documented (filmed).

During the simulation, the facilitator provided a framework for the situation and the case scenario, supervised the study and research and assigned the study materials.

Simulations can also take place in a medical simulation centre, equipped with technologically advanced patient simulators and audio-video devices located in the university, where students of  a nursing faculty can practice their skills and knowledge, gathering experience close to the real situations.

Preparation At the start of the course the facilitator develops a scenario for a learning experience. An assessment of student learning through simulation should be planned – it is often more complex than with other methods. Students need to prepare by carrying out research on the background of the situation to be simulated.
Required resources and equipment Scenario of the activities developed by an academic  staff member, students and other people involved in the simulation (if conducted in real-world facilities).

A real working space – as mentioned above: a place outside of the university, a space made available for students in agreement between teacher and court officials/office representatives.

To develop a quality learning experience,  time and working space are required.

Success factors A key success factor in relation to this method is the degree to which the students are engaged.


Advantages Simulations help students develop skills of critical and evaluative thinking, enabling them to learn through experiential practice procedures and processes running in the real work place.
Disadvantages Lack of interest in participation in the activity.
Additional information

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