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Faculty of Humanities Teaching & Learning Office

Blended Learning Examples

Learning through role play

Learning through role play

See it in action:

  • Simulation Exercises In Class and Online

    Teaching Idea included in the May 2011 issue of Teaching & Learning News in which Nuno Ferreira and Anna Verges outline their use Blackboard to support an online/in class simulation exercise.

  • Using Wikis and Discussion Boards to Support a Simulation Exercise

    Using Wikis and Discussion Boards to Support a Simulation Exercise

    Screencast of Nuno Ferreira's EU Law course which makes use of collaborative tools to support group work.

  • Designing and delivering a simulation exercise

    This presentation discusses the design and delivery of the simulation exercise, the challenges faced, and the students feed-back.

Teaching and understanding the mechanics of the European Union (EU) legislative procedures, and the balances of powers underlying those procedures, is a challenging task. Students often resort to memorising legislative procedures without grasping the relationships between the institutions concerned.

In this EU course, the course director (Dr. Nuno Ferreira) modelled the stages and the dialogue between EU institutions, national institutions and other actors in a carefully scheduled sequence of events that replicated the complexity of EU legislative processes. Through a two-week long activity students themselves became actors in the law making process and engaged on that process in accordance with the role they played.

Nuno created sign up sheets in Blackboard so that students could choose which institution they wanted to be actors for. He then selectively released documents following set EU procedures and enabled electronic tools for all actors to build positions confidentiality and then negotiate positions in wider arenas. Students had to work in groups to come to common positions and to respond to partner institutions as well as reacting to pressures from lobby groups. The Chat tool, discussion boards and Wikis in Blackboard were used to support role playing. Voting in favour or against the legislative proposal and its amendments was simulated live in a lecture theatre and carried out with the use of voting pads.


  • Active engagement from students on an area that is complex and is perceived as arid.
  • Deeper learning through role playing.

The feedback collected after completing the simulation activity showed that students enjoyed the exercise: 78% of the students participating in the simulation exercise declared that after completing the simulation they understood better how EU institutions work; 67% understood better how the EU law-making process takes place, and 80% found Blackboard tools useful. Interestingly, only 36% of the students found that they learned more when working with fellow students whereas 30% found it more difficult, which points at the difficulties of making group learning enjoyable and productive.

The stimulation exercise - an excellent way of putting what we have learnt into use in a way which the vast majority of students will never get a chance to.
The simulation exercise was really good because it gave us the chance to see how the EU functions and to take part in something as a group.
I found the simulation exercise really enjoyable & useful - it helped explain how everything fitted together.