Simulations are complex learning environments, especially when they are designed such that student agency intensively shapes the simulation process. Investigating student learning during the simulation process requires a methodological approach that is able to take contextual influences and fluctuations of processes into account and produce rich, exhaustive descriptions of how student learning unfolds during a simulation. In this paper, we present a methodological approach to assessing student learning in simulations and reflect upon the lessons learned from this approach. We detail a longitudinal case study design in the context of a role-play simulation of political decision-making and critically examine the research opportunities and challenges it presents by focusing on the alignment of theory and research goals, aspects of context, sampling, measurements and procedures, and the role of the researcher.
- Qualitative method, Case study, Role-play simulation, Higher education