The effectiveness of simulations as an outreach tool: using simulations to boost interest in higher education study

Karen Heard-Laureote, Vladimir Bortun, Milan Kreuschitz-Markovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pedagogical benefits of active learning environments such as simulations within university teaching has been widely acknowledged. Yet, empirical evidence supporting this notion remains limited. This paper starts from the premise that simulations can derive benefits when used as an effective University outreach tool to widen participation in and raise aspirations towards entering higher education. We argue that EU-related simulations involving students in secondary education increase their interest in studying European politics and, more generally, Political Science and International Relations (IR) at university level. That is particularly the case with students predisposed to pursuing a degree in these fields. The paper uses data gathered via a pre- and post-simulation questionnaire completed by pupils attending six secondary schools in 2016 who all participated in one of the three simulations included in the study. Empirical investigation reveals three major effects of simulations. First, the simulations increased the participants’ interest in pursuing university degrees in fields cognate to EU politics. Second, the simulations increased the participants’ self-assessed knowledge of EU politics. Third, the simulations increased the importance participants placed on understanding the workings of the EU. Taken together, these findings support our claim that EU-related simulations may be used as outreach tools to increase interest in pursuing EU-related subjects at university level. Such an increase is desirable despite - or perhaps precisely because - of the ongoing Brexit process, as the understanding of and engagement with EU politics will remain relevant for current and future generations of British students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-109
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019


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