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Use Case Scenario: Social Policy Planning and Evaluation

University of Peloponnese (UoP): use of the RUEU? game on a 3rd year Core Elective Course entitled “Social Policy Planning and Evaluation” to examine how social issues might be incorporated into exploring European Identity

Stakeholders

Potential students in the Social and Educational Policy Department at UoP could be part of the intended target groups of students for the RU EU? Game, i.e. Social Science and Business students across Europe.

These participanting students are studying at the University of Peloponnese to receive a Social and Educational Policy degree. They have a very strong background regarding the main themes around EU identity, since they receive a range of social science courses, i.e. Sociology, Institutions and Organisation of the European Union, European Social Policy, Political Science, Labour Market and Employment Policies, Individual and Social Rights, Migration Policy etc.

The focus for this Use Case Scenario is to help students to think about aspects of game design as well as European identity.

The final prototype of the RU EU? game could be used with a group of 3rd year students who were attending a Core Elective course at the Department of Social and Educational Policy, entitled “Social Policy Planning and Evaluation”. The course is compulsory for the Social Policy specialisation.

The students would be using the game in a 3h computer lab session. The game would become available on the Moodle e-learning platform, so the students could use the game either at home or at the university computer lab.

Each student would have access to a computer and play the game individually. The students would also provide feedback on their views of the prototype of the RU EU? game.

Narrative

The design of the RU EU? game is based on Social identity theory, an established theory in social psychology, that describes how a person’s sense of who they are is based on the groups that they belong to and the positive feelings that they have about their membership in these groups (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). Social identity theory explains how strong intergroup feelings emerge via two different processes, self-categorization and social comparison. Self-categorization describes how we categorise objects and events by identifying similarities and differences between ourselves and others and feel pride in the characteristics of the groups to which we feel we belong. Social comparison is the process whereby we maintain our self-esteem in belonging to that group by comparing ourselves favourably to those in other groups.

The proposals of social identity theory that our feelings of belonging to groups are formed through the interactions that we have with others. In the game players would interact with individuals in the form of non-player characters who express varied and contradictory views about European identity.

The students will be encouraged to use the RU EU? game with the aim to explore, think and reflect on European identity and how it is built by using the game. The views of social identity theory will then be represented in the activities carried out in the game tools, where players  interview non player characters, observe discussions between non player characters and evaluate Newflashes.

Embedding in the course / education

The course “Social Policy Planning and Evaluation” aims at offering students the opportunity

  • To critically analyze/synthesize key concepts and the theoretical basis of Social Planning
  • To describe the role of Social Planning as a procedure of rational decision making
  • To understand/analyze the role of Social Planning towards social justice
  • describe/compare different Social Planning techniques focusing upon cost-benefit analysis
  • to understand the context and the critical role of evaluation in Social Planning

The students attending the “Social Policy Planning and Evaluation” course will have the opportunity to play the RU EU? game as part of their exercise during a 3h computer lab session. Playing the game is expected to help them  understand EU identity as a complex, multicomponent construct and how different components become evident in the polarised views about the EU.

The workshop will be accessible from the Moodle site for the module and could be played either at home or from the University computers. Full instructions for downloading the game onto a laptop or desktop computer will also be provided.

To provide a context for the workshop, the students will b briefly informed about the RU EU? Consortium and the background to the RU EU? Project, the increasing popularity of serious games as an innovative approach to learning and the aim of the RU EU? game in trying to provide an innovative method of supporting students in thinking about the highly relevant but controversial topic of European identity.

According to the RU-EU design team, “It is hoped that the game will provide an engaging platform for young Europeans to confront some of the complex and confusing issues surrounding National and European identity at a time of change and increasing tension across Europe” (Boyle at al., 2019). During conducted small-group and large-group discussion, the students identified issues across Europe as they reflect to their own work.

To evaluate whether the RU EU? was successful in this aim of increasing the player’s understanding of EU identity, the game uses an “intern” test as a baseline measure of the players’ attitudes to the EU and European identity for later use in evaluating the impact of the game. These tests are incorporated into the game in an interview to assess the player’s suitability for the trainee journalist job. The questions in the “intern” test were derived from the Eurobarometer survey (Favell, 2010/1) which looks at different components of European identity, such as geographical belonging, whether one thinks of oneself as a citizen of Europe, both now and in the future, the balance between thinking of oneself as a citizen of one’s own country but also as a citizen of Europe. The survey also asks about emotional identification with Europe with respect to attachment to Europe, closeness to Europe and pride in Europe.

(Learning) Activities and outcomes

The content area for the RU EU? game was operationalised as a multi-component construct where 10 key components (themes) of European identity were selected to reflect the breadth and complexity of the related factors. The themes were: Social, Environment, Rights & Responsibilities, Security, Emotions, Jobs & Economy, Political, History, Culture & Geography.

For this Use Case, students learning engagement and activities are to be implemented during a 3h lab session. At first, they will have the opportunity to familiarise with the game, to play the ‘Rights of immigrants’ scenario and to explore many different themes regarding EU identity. In addition, they will be encouraged to reflect on critical game features, i.e., Game flow, Usability of the game, Learning Content, and Learning design. While playing the game, students were asked to think about a) the game scenario and b) the game content. They will be prompted to play two scenarios, i.e. the immigration scenario and another one of their choice.

The students will also be encouraged to reflect, discuss and share ideas with their peers about regarding the learning outcomes of the RU EU? game, in terms of knowledge, attitudes and values about their EU identity (De Freitas & Oliver, 2006;  Romero, Usart & Ott, 2015). The RUEU? game includes activities that require players to encounter differing views about European identity and to engage in tasks requiring higher order thinking skills such as classification, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and judgement in making choices, evaluations and decisions about these differing opinions.

The RUEU? game includes activities that require players to encounter differing views about European identity and to engage in tasks requiring higher order thinking skills such as classification, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and judgement in making choices, evaluations and decisions about these differing opinions.

The students can be encouraged to think about the questions used in the “intern” test. These were derived from the Eurobarometer survey (Favell, (2010/1) which looks at different components of European identity, such as geographical belonging, whether one thinks of oneself as a citizen of Europe, both now and in the future, the balance between thinking of oneself as a citizen of one’s own country but also as a citizen of Europe. The survey also asks about emotional identification with Europe with respect to attachment to Europe, closeness to Europe and pride in Europe.

References

Boyle, E., Baalsrud Hauge, J., Leith, M., Sim, D., Hummel, H., Jandrić, P., & Jimoyiannis, A. (2019). Linking Learning Outcomes and Game Mechanics in the Early Stages of the RU EU? Project. In M. Gentile, M. Allegra, & H. Söbke (Eds.), Games and Learning Alliance. GALA 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11385 (pp. 191-200). Cham: Springer, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11548-7_18.

De Freitas, S., & Oliver, M. (2006). How can exploratory learning with games and simulations within the curriculum be most effectively evaluated? Computers & Education46(3), 249-264.

Favell, A. (2010/1). European identity and European citizenship in three “Eurocities”: A sociological approach to the European Union, Politique Européenne 30, pp.187-224.

Romero, M., Usart, M., & Ott, M. (2015). Can serious games contribute to developing and sustaining 21st century skills? Games and Culture10(2), 148-177.

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behaviour. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (eds.). Psychology of Intergroup Relations. Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall. pp. 7–24.