Volume 41, Issue 2, June 2018
Kathryn E. Joyce, Andy Lamey, Noel Martin
Teaching Philosophy through a Role-Immersion Game
Reacting to the Past
A growing body of research suggests that students achieve learning outcomes at higher rates when instructors use active-learning methods rather than standard modes of instruction. To investigate how one such method might be used to teach philosophy, we observed two classes that employed Reacting to the Past (hereafter, Reacting), an educational role-immersion game. We chose to investigate Reacting because role-immersion games are considered a particularly effective active-learning strategy. Professors who have used Reacting to teach history, interdisciplinary humanities, and political theory agree that it engages students and teaches general skills like collaboration and communication. We investigated whether it can be effective for teaching philosophical content and skills like analyzing, evaluating, crafting, and communicating arguments in addition to bringing the more general benefits of active learning to philosophy classrooms. Overall, we find Reacting to be a useful tool for achieving these ends. While we do not argue that Reacting is uniquely useful for teaching philosophy, we conclude that it is worthy of consideration by philosophers interested in creative active-learning strategies, especially given that it offers a prepackaged set of flexible, user-friendly tools for motivating and engaging students.