Students as co-researchers to inform student learning: Findings from a poverty simulation

Simulations, like the one described here on poverty, offer rich learning opportunities that are embodied and complex.   Here we have a study that lives on the border between student experiential learning and action research.  This borderland is very fertile in that students’ engagement in developing a deeper understanding of poverty is fruitful for them, and for our larger citizenry.

Poverty simulations are a promising approach to teaching about poverty in that they have been demonstrated to produce various outcomes such as changing attitudes toward poor people, intention to engage in pro-civic behavior and the development of empathy.  What is not well documented in the literature is exactly how students learn about poverty through this type of exercise.

Using the central tenets of action research, students teach us, through their insights into their peers, just how this learning occurs.  Indeed, what we discover in this article is that is that these types of experiential learning opportunities are ripe for learners to transform how they think about issues such as poverty.  As we work to find new and effective ways to engage students in key issues of social justice, it is important to understand just how students learn through various innovative educational opportunities.

It is clear that the results of this study were uncovered mainly because the student team itself was personally invested in the process and actively engaged in reflection, action and inquiry.  The added bonus is the skills, knowledge and confidence developed by the members of the team and their trajectory towards future action research and engagement in issues of social justice.


Blog post written by Susan Roll

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 30-day access is available for this article beginning 10 November, 2017.

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