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Online Course for Teachers: Teaching Evolution

About this Course 

SESSION 7

SESSION 7: How Can You Use Active Learning to Teach Evolution?

Explore Part B: Simulations

Simulations as an Instructional Strategy
A simulation is a simplified, operating model of how the key features of a process or a system works. It can be an effective instructional strategy for helping people learn about principles and for applying insights to a variety of situations. The debriefing that follows a simulation is the key to its effectiveness. The debrief helps participants reflect on their experiences, relate them to the real world, and discover and share significant insights.

Some useful questions for guiding a debrief are:

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How do you feel? This lets participants get their feelings out so they can focus and be more objective for the rest of the debrief.

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What happened? This involves a description of the data participants collected during the simulation.

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What did you learn? This encourages participants to discuss what they have learned about principles of the model demonstrated.

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What if...? This allows for speculation on how different scenarios might play out.

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How does this relate to the real world? This allows participants to distinguish how the simulation is like and different from the real world process.

(Debrief questions adapted from Sivasailam "Thiagi" Thiagarajan, Thiagi's Game Letter. Jossey-Bass, Pfeiffer, April 1998.)

Both Ms. Havlik and Ms. Chen use simulations as an instructional strategy. Think about:

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How was the use of simulations similar and different in the two classrooms?

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of using simulations to teach evolution?

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What else might you have included in a debriefing for these activities?

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How were these simulations like real life? Different from real life?

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What might be some next steps after each activity?

In what ways can simulations serve as active learning environments? Comment on the effectiveness of simulations in the video examples and in your own teaching experience.

 



 

Facilitator Note 2

 

Next: Explain Part A: Questioning

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