American Government and Politics

Simulating Direct Democracy in the Classroom: a Minimal Group Experimental Design

Kristina Victor California State University, Sacramento
This paper describes a simulation used in American Government and California Politics and California Policy courses. The in-class simulation mimics the use of direct democracy in California over a single election season. Using knowledge from previous class periods students participate in a more active learning environment, to understand some of the impacts of legislating through propositions and how certain groups participate in the political process. The simulation uses a minimal group experimental set-up to allow the students to potentially participate as a member of different group in society. Persistent findings across simulations show lessons for coalition building, leadership, negotiation, resource allocation, campaign strategy, group identity and cohesion, trust among groups, and political apathy.