Faculty Tips: Bringing Course Content to Life With Simulations

Simulations are a great way for students to develop their problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills. The benefits of simulations have been identified by multiple studies. For example, in their work, Nilson (2016), argues that “simulations and games can bring the course material to life and emotionally engage an entire class as few other methods can” (p. 170). This short lecture below will aims to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Explain why simulations can increase student learning.
  • Identify key components of good educational simulations.
  • Trace the educational simulation development process.

Feel free to download this Simulations Handout, and use it as you view the mini-lecture on simulations. 


Angelini, M. L. (2021). Learning Through Simulations: Ideas for Educational Practitioners. Springer.

Figueroa, C. (2014). Developing Practical/Analytical Skills Through Mindful Classroom Simulations for “Doing” Leadership. Journal of Public Affairs Education 20(1), pp. 113-129.

Glasgow, D. (April 2015). Political Theory Simulations in the Classroom: Simulating John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government. Political Science. doi:10.1017/S1049096514002133.

Hertel, J., Millis, B. (2002). Using Simulations to Promote Learning in Higher Education: An Introduction. Stylus Publishing.

Nilson, L. (2016). Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors (4th Ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Peffer, M., Beckler, M., Schunn, C., Renken, M., Revak, M., (2015). Science Classroom Inquiry (SCI) Simulations: A Novel Method to Scaffold Science Learning. PLoS One 10(3). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120638.

Sportsman, S., Schumacker, R., and Hamiltin, P., (2011). Evaluating the Impact of Scenario-Based High-Fidelity Patient Simulation on Academic Metrics of Student Success. Nursing Education Perspectives, 32(4), pp. 259- 265.