Using SchoolSims Simulations in Professional Preparation Programs

February 15, 2022

By Alan Sebel, Associate Professor of School Leadership and Administration in the Graduate School of Education at Touro College

Simulations are a proven tool that has trained many professionals in fields, including health professions, to practice making decisions on patients without the implications of hurting them or making the wrong choice. If it works in the medical field, simulations could be used in every field, whether that be an advertising major learning how to pitch to prospective clients or an education student learning how to build an inclusive classroom. The practical application of simulations can allow for all students to “be able to apply the concepts taught in our courses to authentic and practical work-related situations.” We must start taking advantage of the tools out there to prepare our students.

In a recent written study, I implemented SchoolSims simulations into our 36 credit school leadership program to enhance the curriculum for our leadership students. A faculty member brought to the program’s attention that these simulations could provide the degree candidates with real-life experience in a safe, virtual setting. Our program saw that the simulations aligned with professional standards such as PSEL and NELP and began using them in every course. The SchoolSims simulations could be used asynchronously or synchronously and had topics aligned with nearly every course taught in our leadership program. 

After several semesters of use, Touro surveyed the candidates regarding their experience with the simulations. The survey asked them to rank four items as strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, or strongly disagree with the statement. They surveyed 50 candidates and received 29 responses.

The survey items and the results are as follows:

  1. Simulation(s) improved my understanding of the challenges faced by school/district leaders: 27 strongly agreed or agreed; one was neutral, and one disagreed.
  2. Simulation(s) increased my knowledge of school leadership: 27 strongly agreed or agreed; one was neutral, and one disagreed.
  3. Participating in the simulation(s) strengthened the course content: 27 strongly agreed or agreed; one was neutral, and one disagreed.
  4. What I learned from participation in the simulation(s) is transferable to my future work as a school/district leader: 26 strongly agreed or agreed; two were neutral, and one disagreed.

The college also received personal reflections from the candidates, including candidates believing the simulations strengthened their critical thinking skills; the simulations created a safe place to discuss the outcomes of the presented scenarios and foster a greater understanding of the outcomes of the decisions they made.

The survey results and faculty feedback demonstrated the significance of simulations as a pedagogical method that strengthens the courses and equips degree candidates to handle the difficulties that school leaders confront today. It is logical to assume that employing simulations would benefit students preparing for any job in the same way. Simulation-based education allows students to put what they have learned into practice and apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios.


References:

Sebel, Alan. “Using Simulations in Professional Preparation Programs.” Academic Leader, 14 Feb. 2022.