Session Title

Simulating the Black Death: A Workshop on Using Reacting to the Past in Medieval Courses

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Kate McGrath

Organizer Affiliation

Central Connecticut State Univ.

Presider Name

Jace Stuckey

Presider Affiliation

Marymount Univ.

Paper Title 1

Workshop Leader

Presenter 1 Name

Amy Curry

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Lone Star College-Montgomery

Paper Title 2

Workshop Leader

Presenter 2 Name

Kate McGrath

Start Date

11-5-2018 3:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1330

Description

This panel would be centered on demoing and discussing a Reacting to the Past (RTTP) game on the Black Death to use in teaching undergraduates. In RTTP games, students take on the character of a real historical figure during a critical moment in the past. They are required to do research on their role in order to help achieve certain objectives during the simulation game, which results in a friendly competitive environment. Students then write several papers using primary and secondary research, and they deliver these papers as speeches in in-class debates. This type of pedagogy emphasizes several critical academic skills. Students must develop their research and analytical skills to learn the content and read historical texts. They work on their writing and public speaking skills in the debates. They also work together in groups to help support their faction’s agenda. These are all critical skills that students need in order to be successful not only in the classroom but in their future careers. There is much peer-reviewed research on the successes of the RTTP pedagogy since its initial development at Barnard College. Studies have demonstrated that it enhances student engagement, which not only helps with their excitement for learning but also with graduation and retention rates.[1] We want to introduce this pedagogy to medievalists who will find it an effective way to teach medieval history to students.

In this session, participants will be able to play a micro-version of the RTTP Black Death game, and they will be able to learn from experienced users of RTTP on how to incorporate it into medieval courses. The Black Death game was written and developed by Amy Curry. It is set in January 1349 in Norwich, England. Students are members of the Small Council of the town, and they have to make decisions for their community on how to manage the growing threats posed by the plague, as well as continuing to run their city. The students are divided into factions to recreate the political, economic, and social dynamics of the council as well as the religious dimensions of the town. Students must grapple with the ramifications of their decisions at both the individual and community level, always keeping in mind how a good decision in one area might negatively affect another. This game would be good to use in any medieval history course. It would also be good for World or Western Civilization surveys, and we will discuss how to adapt RTTP games for one class session instead of the standard two weeks. It would also be good for non-history courses, such as English literature, Religious Studies, First Year Experiences, or Humanities courses.

[1]Matthew C. Weidenfeld & Kenneth E. Fernandez, "Does Reacting to the Past Increase Student Engagement? An Empirical Evaluation of the Use of Historical Simulations" in Teaching Political Theory, Journal of Political Science Education, DOI: 10.1080/15512169.2016.1175948.; Olwell, Russell and Azibo Stevens, "'I had to double check my thoughts': How the Reacting to the Past Methodology Impacts First-Year College Student Engagement, Retention, and Historical Thinking," in The History Teacher 48, no. 3 (May 2015): 561-572; Kevin R. Burke, "Roleplaying Music History: Honing General Education Skills via 'Reacting to the Past,'" in Journal of Music History Pedagogy [S.I.], 5, no. 1 (2014): 1-21; P.K. Lazrus and G.K. McKay, "The Reacting to the Past Pedagogy and Engaging the First Year Student", in J. E. Groccia and L. Cruz (eds.) To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development. San Francisco: Jossey Bass 2013, 315-416; John Burney, Richard Gid Powers & Mark Carnes, "Reacting to the Past: A New Approach to Student Engagement and to Enhancing General Education," White Paper Report submitted to the Teagle Foundation, 2010.

Kate McGrath

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May 11th, 3:30 PM

Simulating the Black Death: A Workshop on Using Reacting to the Past in Medieval Courses

Schneider 1330

This panel would be centered on demoing and discussing a Reacting to the Past (RTTP) game on the Black Death to use in teaching undergraduates. In RTTP games, students take on the character of a real historical figure during a critical moment in the past. They are required to do research on their role in order to help achieve certain objectives during the simulation game, which results in a friendly competitive environment. Students then write several papers using primary and secondary research, and they deliver these papers as speeches in in-class debates. This type of pedagogy emphasizes several critical academic skills. Students must develop their research and analytical skills to learn the content and read historical texts. They work on their writing and public speaking skills in the debates. They also work together in groups to help support their faction’s agenda. These are all critical skills that students need in order to be successful not only in the classroom but in their future careers. There is much peer-reviewed research on the successes of the RTTP pedagogy since its initial development at Barnard College. Studies have demonstrated that it enhances student engagement, which not only helps with their excitement for learning but also with graduation and retention rates.[1] We want to introduce this pedagogy to medievalists who will find it an effective way to teach medieval history to students.

In this session, participants will be able to play a micro-version of the RTTP Black Death game, and they will be able to learn from experienced users of RTTP on how to incorporate it into medieval courses. The Black Death game was written and developed by Amy Curry. It is set in January 1349 in Norwich, England. Students are members of the Small Council of the town, and they have to make decisions for their community on how to manage the growing threats posed by the plague, as well as continuing to run their city. The students are divided into factions to recreate the political, economic, and social dynamics of the council as well as the religious dimensions of the town. Students must grapple with the ramifications of their decisions at both the individual and community level, always keeping in mind how a good decision in one area might negatively affect another. This game would be good to use in any medieval history course. It would also be good for World or Western Civilization surveys, and we will discuss how to adapt RTTP games for one class session instead of the standard two weeks. It would also be good for non-history courses, such as English literature, Religious Studies, First Year Experiences, or Humanities courses.

[1]Matthew C. Weidenfeld & Kenneth E. Fernandez, "Does Reacting to the Past Increase Student Engagement? An Empirical Evaluation of the Use of Historical Simulations" in Teaching Political Theory, Journal of Political Science Education, DOI: 10.1080/15512169.2016.1175948.; Olwell, Russell and Azibo Stevens, "'I had to double check my thoughts': How the Reacting to the Past Methodology Impacts First-Year College Student Engagement, Retention, and Historical Thinking," in The History Teacher 48, no. 3 (May 2015): 561-572; Kevin R. Burke, "Roleplaying Music History: Honing General Education Skills via 'Reacting to the Past,'" in Journal of Music History Pedagogy [S.I.], 5, no. 1 (2014): 1-21; P.K. Lazrus and G.K. McKay, "The Reacting to the Past Pedagogy and Engaging the First Year Student", in J. E. Groccia and L. Cruz (eds.) To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development. San Francisco: Jossey Bass 2013, 315-416; John Burney, Richard Gid Powers & Mark Carnes, "Reacting to the Past: A New Approach to Student Engagement and to Enhancing General Education," White Paper Report submitted to the Teagle Foundation, 2010.

Kate McGrath