Faculty to ‘React to the Past’ Through Educational Games

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 11, 2019 – High Point University’s Dr. Kirstin Squint, associate professor of English, is leading a grant team that will host a Reacting to the Past conference to be held on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 29 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 30.

Reacting to the Past shows how knowledge and skills are exchanged in an educational context. During Reacting to the Past games, faculty will take on roles in elaborate games set in the past in order to solve complex issues. These games promote critical thinking, problem solving, leadership skills and teamwork.

Reacting roles, unlike those in a play, do not have a fixed script and outcome, so while students will be obliged to adhere to the philosophical and intellectual beliefs of the historical figures they have been assigned to play, they must devise their own means of expressing those ideas persuasively, in papers, speeches or other public presentations. The students must also pursue a course of action they think will help them win the game. 

Faculty from HPU and other universities throughout the region will play Greenwich Village, 1913: Suffrage, Labor, and the New Woman and Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791 simulation games. This opportunity was possible through a 2018-19 HPU Think BIG! Grant.

“Reacting to the Past games are active learning and teaching tools that help students to better learn discipline-specific content, but also foster an incredible level of engagement,” says Squint. “The training opportunities provided by our HPU Think BIG! grant have enabled faculty across HPU’s disciplines to learn how to ‘game-master’ these role simulations in their classrooms.”

Squint says HPU faculty are encouraged to try innovative, pedagogical approaches in order to more effectively deliver content to their students. Reacting to the Past is an award-winning teaching model that has been proven to make students want to come to class and engage in their coursework.

In his book, “Minds on Fire: How Role Immersion Games Transform College,” Reacting to the Past creator Mark Carnes demonstrates that this kind of teaching can lead to stronger critical thinking, teamwork, and even leadership skills in students. 

The HPU Think BIG Awards are awarded annually on a competitive basis to exceptional HPU faculty projects that enhance the student learning experience and enrich the broader academic community. The grants awarded aim to encourage faculty to imagine and design truly innovative, creative and engaging approaches to student learning.

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