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How to make a better world – A study of adolescent deliberations in a problem-solving simulation

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Author(s): Tommi Eränpalo | Tiina Karhuvirta

Journal: Nordidactica : Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education
ISSN 2000-9879

Volume: 2012;
Issue: 2012:2;
Start page: 54;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: CIVIC EDUCATION | SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHING | CRITICAL THINKING | GROUNDED THEORY | CIVIC ENGAGEMENT | SIMULATIONS

ABSTRACT
The article examines the impact of the teaching methods in social studies on the classroom atmosphere and on the students’ motivation, attitudes and engagement. School as a social space consists of several layers and role differentiations, the existence of which may not have been widely recognised and which may prevent students from adopting an active role in class discussions. Particularly from the perspective of teaching social studies, it is essential to create a deliberative atmosphere in the classroom, so that social issues are seen as genuinely open, controversial and approachable from different angles – in other words, as political. The article presents a qualitative case study in which a group of Nordic young people processes problems found in society by playing a simulation game called Act Now!. The data gathered from playing the game has been analysed based on grounded theory and the Straussian inductive-deductive approach. The study examines simulation as a method that has an impact on the learning environment. Simulation can be seen as a method that opens new fruitful possibilities for addressing societal issues in social studies teaching from the interdisciplinary point of view. The results suggest that a proper pedagogic approach for a social interaction creates an atmosphere that allows all students to participate and feel included. This experience of classroom contribution strengthens young people’s positive self-image as citizens who care about public issues. Therefore experiences of classroom contribution should be set more in the focus in social studies education today.

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