Monday, April 26, 2010

Effectiveness Of Role Playing, Case Studies, and Simulation Games in Teaching Agricultural Economics

This study assessed the impact of role playing, case studies, and simulations for teaching at the undergraduate level. Its purpose was to show how effective the tools were at improving the student’s level of understanding for certain concepts.

Objectives and Methodology

The educational impact model was used in a qualitative evaluation of the content and the level of effectiveness for role playing, case studies, and simulations. The study was conducted during two classes with one professor teaching the same course. One course was taught using only lecture and the other class was taught using the three different aids. The study also used an average of student test scores as an indicator of the level of effectiveness and student performance. Both classes were given the same test.

Role Playing

Role playing, as most often used in a classroom, requires physical involvement on the part of students. Two or more people "act out" the part of individuals in a hypothetical situation. For the purpose of the class, the following situation was used:

Students were presented with the subject of “price determination; a role-playing exercise patterned around the open-outcry market typical of commodity futures markets.”

1.) Sixteen students participated in three successive auctions, some acting as farmers and others acting as wholesalers.

2.) Information concerning quantities to be bought or sold and profit/cost levels per pound was provided on index cards given to each participant by the instructor.

3.) During each three-minute auction the students had to negotiate transaction prices with one another.

4.) After the third auction, the three sets of resulting prices were analyzed by the entire class.

5.) After the instructor told the class which set of prices were generated in an equilibrium, surplus, and shortage situation the students could see that the theory presented in their textbooks did, in fact, describe what happened in their exercise.

Results for the Effectiveness of Role Playing

The results for the experiment concerning use of a role-playing exercise provide some insight into the impact. Role playing had only a small direct effect on exam scores; only a 3 percent increase on scores. However, students made written comments on how role playing raised the student’s level of interest. 73 percent of the participants noted that the exercise was one of the most favorable parts of the course.


· Gives students a better understanding of the decision-making process

· Can be applied to various situations


· Does not allow for much detail in the information being studied or all of the variables involved


For results of the whole study including case studies and simulations, please see “Effectiveness Of Role Playing, Case Studies, and Simulation Games in Teaching Agricultural Economics” by Steven Blank accessed through Academic Search Complete.

1 comment:

  1. Agricultural economics role-playing exercises might "not allow for much detail in the information studied or all the variables involved," but I think that weakness of role-playing is more dependent on the application. I came across some articles that referenced applications of role-playing in college classrooms that did allow for more detailed information. However, these cases dealt primarily with historical situations with which the students had prior experience or knowledge. Perhaps the scenario and player knowledge of that scenario could negate the above-stated weakness?