Immersive Policy Learning: An Interactive Course Experiment

Tanya M. Kelley, Erik Johnston

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Scopus citations


    An in-course experiment provided undergraduate public policy students with tangible experience in dealing with unfair, discriminatory, intrusive, and arbitrary policies and practices similar to those that legally exist in government. Students were subjected to in-course policies that gave preferential status and enhanced opportunities to some classmates while others were punished or handicapped. Each of the seemingly arbitrary conditions has parallels in U. S. legal, economic, and social systems. The experiment was designed to enhance student learning through an immersion in a simulated policy environment and to offer a personalized experience of dealing with unjust and arbitrary policies. Experimental and control group responses were analyzed with a grounded research approach. The authors found that the immersive environment led to deeper knowledge of the policy situation and an understanding of how to get involved in a policy area to effect change. This study illustrates potential applications for active learning, simulated empathy, and student empowerment.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)125-140
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Public Affairs Education
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


    • learning environment
    • participatory experiment
    • Policy learning
    • student empowerment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Public Administration


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