Exploring the Role of Interactive Computer Simulations in Public Administration Education

Qian Hu, Erik Johnston, Libby Hemphill, Rashmi Krishnamurthy, Ajay Shreekrishna Vinze

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    8 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Preparing public administration students for complex challenges that involve high uncertainty, stakeholder interdependencies, policy resistance, and slow feedback cycles presents unique challenges for educators. Those in the field of public administration and public policy can broaden their educational toolbox by embracing new technologies for educating future public administration practitioners. This research demonstrates that interactive computer simulations provide dynamic contexts and creative learning environments for students to individually and collectively apply systems thinking in information-rich environments with instant feedback channels. Across a series of exploratory studies using an interactive simulation focused on water uncertainty and policy options, this research has consistently found strong learning outcomes. The findings showed that students were able to quickly grasp the complexity associated with interdependent stakeholders with divergent interests, uncertain future conditions, and policy options that reflect competing values. However, this research also discovered some unintended consequences. Using interaction simulations may limit the scope of deliberation topics to only those that were highlighted by the simulation. Thus the research concludes with a discussion of some ethical concerns related to the use of computer simulations as part of an educational exercise.1.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)513-530
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Public Affairs Education
    Volume18
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Public Administration

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