Assessing negotiation skill and its development in an online collaborative simulation game: a social network analysis study

Zhiru Sun, Amelie Theussen

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Abstract

Simulation games are widely used to teach negotiation skills in political science education. However, existing studies focus on the impact of simulation games on students' knowledge gains and affective changes and largely ignore skill assessment and development in the gaming environment. This study aimed to understand the process of student groups practicing negotiation skills in a collaborative simulation game through social network analysis (SNA). We proposed a conceptual framework to assess negotiation skills by identifying different negotiation skillsets based on participatory roles in collaborative learning, investigated the skill development through the change of the skillsets over time, and examined the relationship between the negotiation skillsets and achievement. The results showed that the majority of student groups practiced more complex negotiation skillsets towards the end of the game, and the complexity of skillsets was positively related to the negotiation outcomes in the simulation game. The study demonstrated the possibilities of using SNA as an analytical tool to measure negotiation skills and explore dynamic skill development in a collaborative simulation game. It has also shown the potential of integrating SNA in a collaborative gaming environment for automated analysis of a large volume of data concerning interactions. Practitioner notes What is already known about this topic Simulation games are widely used to teach negotiation skills in political science education to improve the connection between theoretical knowledge and skill practice. Existing studies focus on the impact of simulation games on learners' knowledge gains and affective changes but ignore the skill assessment and development in the gaming environment, especially in the collaborative simulated gaming environment. What this paper adds The study investigated the process of student groups practicing negotiation skills in a collaborative simulation game through Social Network Analysis (SNA). We proposed a novel conceptual framework to measure negotiation skills by identifying different negotiation skillsets through connecting them to learners' participatory roles that emerged during the collaborative gameplay. The study demonstrated learners' dynamic and evolutionary process of practicing negotiation skills in the game. The results showed that there was a positive relationship between the complexity of negotiation skillsets and negotiation outcomes in the game. Implications for practice and/or policy The study demonstrates the possibilities of using SNA as an analytical tool to measure negotiation skills and explore dynamic skill development in a collaborative gaming environment. The results can guide teachers to identify risky game moves and students in need and provide personalized feedback to help improve students' negotiation skills. The findings can help teachers optimize the game design to ensure students' equal and active participation in the game. The study highlights the potential of integrating SNA in collaborative gaming environments for automated analysis of a large volume of data concerning interactions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Volume54
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)222-246
ISSN0007-1013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • collaborative simulation game
  • political science education
  • skill assessment
  • social network analysis

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