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Simulating Policy Making in the European Union

Alison Statham

This paper explores the use of simulation exercises as a means to develop and assess students' knowledge and application of core areas of key EU policy making activity. Planning for and participating in a simulation event challenges students to engage in detailed research activity, process and evaluate large quantities of varied source materials, synthesise information and data into presentable formats, and work collectively to achieve shared targets. When preparation is organised over a sustained period containing a small number of short interim tasks, students are able to demonstrate a depth and longevity of knowledge. Furthermore, the assessment event itself enables participants to enhance and test their skills of negotiation and compromise within a policy-making format.This paper will consider the effectiveness of such assessment methods within the context of a module in the Politics of the European Union on undergraduate programmes in Politics and International Relations at De Montfort University. It will draw upon the development of the exercise over a number of years, and experiences of staff and students involved in the process, and apply pedagogic theories around the use of simulations to these experiences, to evaluate the effectiveness of such exercises as teaching and assessment tools.In addition, the paper will suggest methods by which students can be supported in their preparation for the assessment as well as during the event itself. To this end, the use of virtual learning environments, social networking, and peer evaluations will be discussed and evaluated.

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