About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6453-6465
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0475

Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain

STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY: SIMULATED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AS A MEANS TO BOOST CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN THE EU?

E. Gabrovska, P. Pijlman

The Hague University of Applied Sciences (NETHERLANDS)
The issue of limited civic participation in the European Union (EU) context has been an ever-present problem for the EU, as it indirectly undermines its democratic legitimacy. In light of this, higher education study programmes have been developing projects that aim to make students of EU affairs familiar with the Brussels machinery and what it takes to conduct successful politics at the EU level, thereby bringing them closer to the EU project. One such type of activity has been training young graduates on EU policy-making by offering role-play simulation games. Participation in EU policy-making may seem to be an elitist activity of highly educated professionals, but efforts to empower future highly educated professionals in universities have identified (in such games) a secret weapon which may have a positive indirect effect on increasing civic participation within the EU.

The case under investigation is a simulation game on decision-making in the EU within the European Studies Bachelor programme at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. This case facilitates an intriguing investigation into unintended learning experiences, which might go beyond the skills and knowledge as outlined in the learning objectives for the course. In order to check for this, the current research uses deliberative democracy as a framework of enquiry. The main goal of this research is to evaluate the extent to which students identify the deliberative aspects of the simulation game they have participated in (persuasion, argumentation, reasoned debate), as opposed to more traditional aspects that are linked to rational choice decision-making (bargaining, negotiation, competitiveness).

The central question is: To what extent have students identified the deliberative aspects of EU policy making, and what are the implications of that for boosting civic participation in the EU? Our hypothesis is, therefore, that students who participate in simulation games about decision-making in the EU are more likely to identify the deliberative aspects of that process. As a result, in real life, they may be more likely to engage and participate in discussions on EU politics. The most suitable method of inquiry for evaluating perceptions was deemed to be a post-simulation anonymous survey distributed at the end of the course which asked the participants (114 students) to reflect on their experiences during the game.

Even though this research has only uncovered a small part of the puzzle, it has managed to establish some answers, such as the fact that EU decision-making in simulated learning environments exhibits deliberative aspects that are also recognized by the students themselves. Even so, the question still remains if they actually value this particular aspect of the simulation exercise and if it would inform their conduct in real life (thereby increasing civic participation). The last part of the survey makes an attempt to address this but the results are not conclusive.

In a broader sense, this research concludes that when researching the value of problem-based learning and specifically simulation games, the unintended learning outcomes should also form part of the picture. In this case, we can say that one such outcome has been the partial socialization of students into the merits of deliberative democracy as a valuable perspective on policy-making at the EU level.
@InProceedings{GABROVSKA2016STU,
author = {Gabrovska, E. and Pijlman, P.},
title = {STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY: SIMULATED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AS A MEANS TO BOOST CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN THE EU?},
series = {9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2016 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-5895-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2016.0475},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2016.0475},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {6453-6465}}
TY - CONF
AU - E. Gabrovska AU - P. Pijlman
TI - STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY: SIMULATED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AS A MEANS TO BOOST CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN THE EU?
SN - 978-84-617-5895-1/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2016.0475
PY - 2016
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2016
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2016 Proceedings
SP - 6453
EP - 6465
ER -
E. Gabrovska, P. Pijlman (2016) STUDENT PERCEPTIONS OF DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY: SIMULATED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AS A MEANS TO BOOST CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN THE EU?, ICERI2016 Proceedings, pp. 6453-6465.
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