This exploratory study assesses the utility, in terms of learning and conceptualizing planning, of a role-playing exercise (the Great Planning Game [GPG]) and a serious game (Polis PowerPlays [PPP]) employed in a planning theory course offered at The University of Queensland in Australia. The study reveals that role-playing and serious gaming are equally engaging and help planning students learn and embody different roles while having fun. No great differences can be discerned in terms of learning effectiveness. With regard to teaching style, the GPG is more passive and tends to encourage collaboration, whereas the PPP is more dynamic and fosters competition. Both activities help students discover aspects of planning—and planning stakeholders—which they may not have considered before. Most participating students appear to regard planning as a pluralist pursuit. Communication and public participation are viewed as central to planning processes. However, traces of incrementalism and rationality are also present. While students believe in equity planning (i.e., advocacy from within the system), radical social justice approaches that challenge the status quo are notably absent. Overall, the authors conclude that these activities cannot fully replace guided and structured instruction but, as “whole task practices,” are a desirable complement to direct instruction.
- planning theory
- serious gaming