The pedagogical effectiveness of active learning methods within university teaching, such as simulations, has been widely acknowledged. There is some evidence that simulations are effective tools at engaging students in the classroom. Yet, empirical evidence of actual impacts on learning are not as well-documented as they could be. Importantly however, little work has been done to see their contribution and impact as an outreach and recruitment tool to bring new students into the social sciences discipline. This article builds on the assumption that simulations can prove effective when used as university outreach tools to enhance interest in pursuing higher education study. We argue that EU-related simulations engaging students in secondary education stimulate their interest in studying European politics and, more generally, international relations at university level. The article relies on data collected through pre- and post-simulation questionnaires completed by the pupils who participated in simulations that took place in six secondary schools between 2016 and 2017. The empirical investigation reveals three key effects of those simulations. First, the simulations enhanced the participants’ interest in pursuing university degrees associated with European Union (EU) politics. Second, the simulations increased the participants’ self-assessed knowledge of EU politics. Third, the simulations consolidated the participants’ perceived importance of understanding how the EU works. Overall, these findings back our claim that EU-related simulations may be used as outreach tools to boost interest in pursuing EU-related subjects in higher education. In the context of the ongoing Brexit process, such a boost is desirable as the understanding of EU politics will continue to be relevant for the future generations of British students.
Education, Empirical, Outreach, Simulations, European politics, Higher Education, Brexit
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