In this session, I’d like to discuss how we might use mechanics and frameworks from pen and paper role-playing-games to bridge the content-skills divide in university and college survey courses.
Survey courses are generally designed to be content-rich, but they are not often effective models for teaching students important skills like writing, constructing an argument, archival and library research, source interpretation, and historical contextualization.
This issue is widely known in the humanities academy, but most humanities departments persist in using the survey model because, for all its faults, it is an effective way to cheaply teach large numbers of students and to provide the information foundation for more advanced study in a discipline.
Role-playing-games, by their nature, ask participants to think in new and creative ways and to situate individual/group actions and thoughts in the context in which the game is based. They also provide a structure for how participants encounter, interpret, and utilize the game’s content.
The humanities role-playing-games that I know of, such as the Reacting to the Past modules, have been designed for smaller, more advanced humanities courses, and focus on specific topics (ex: the Trial of Anne Hutchinson).
Can a role-playing-game be designed to work in place of the traditional introductory survey course (that is, to deliver both the broad foundational content and teach humanities skills simultaneously)? Are you interested in taking on this challenge? Come discuss it in this session!