What Can Students Learn in an Extended Role-Play Simulation on Technology and Society?

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 29 (1):37-47 (2009)
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Abstract

In a small course on technology and society, students participated in an extended role-play simulation for two weeks. Each student played a different adult character in a fictional community, which faces technological decisions in three scenarios set in the near future. The three scenarios involved stem cell research, nanotechnology, and privacy. Each student had an active role in two scenarios and served as an observer for the third. At the beginning, students were apprehensive, excited, and uncertain. During the first and second sessions, they experienced some frustration, but by the end, they were generally satisfied with the outcomes. Over the two weeks, students changed their definitions of success: Initially they tried to convince others to agree with their positions; at the end, they felt that a consensus represented success. In their final reflective essays, students reported that the role-play experience helped them learn to understand the perspectives of others.

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