Using an Online Simulation of Supreme Court Decision Making In Large Classes

22 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2013


Simulating the decision making of the U.S. Supreme Court continues to be a common component in many political science and law school courses. The vast majority of reported simulations involve oral argument and the use of moot courts to enhance student understanding of decision making. This paper reviews the merits of an online simulation which incorporates additional stages and actors. Moreover, a segregated communication environment is used to better represent these additional stages. There are also several efficiencies gained by using this type of simulation including its use in large classes.

Most important, this paper discusses the implementation in several classes and the problems of evaluation encountered. Students responses were so consistently mediocre that a precise and systematic evaluation of the ‘effectiveness’ was not possible. There are several possible barriers to a successful experience. The paper discusses the likely culprits in these simulations as well as the general challenges for simulations in large classes.

Keywords: simulations, instruction

Suggested Citation

Gates, John B., Using an Online Simulation of Supreme Court Decision Making In Large Classes. APSA 2013 Teaching and Learning Conference Paper, Available at SSRN: or

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