S.J. Quinney College of Law

Celebrating 100 Years of
Legal Education (1913-2013)

About the Simulation

Though the University of Utah College of Law’s annual Counterterrorism Simulation has been a success since its inception in 2007, the program has come a long way since then:

  • 2014 year marks the Simulation’s seventh year anniversary at the College of Law.
  • Over one hundred students have taken Professor Amos Guiora’s Global Perspectives on Counterterrorism and have participated in the Simulation.
  • Each Simulation running approximately eight hours, over 50 hours of Simulation time has been run.
  • Since the addition of shadow players in 2009, over forty external participants have contributed to the Simulation. Our shadow players have included government officials, local police enforcement, and past Simulation participants.
  • Our online dashboard has hosted thousands of viewers across the globe. Nearly every continent has seen our Simulation exercises.

Over the years, the Counterterrorism Simulation has become a cornerstone event for the College of Law. The buzz about the Simulation has been growing and faculty, students, and alumni alike look forward to it every year. The Conterterrorism Simulation is a key component of the College of Law’s recent “A” grade ranking in National Jurist magazine. 

As we strive to provide the best Simulation experience for students, we have identified a list of goals to improve the program:

  • More quantifiable outcomes The Simulation is a highly qualitative event. There’s so much going on, it’s hard to objectively quantify student outcomes during the event. We’d like to facilitate an environment in which the students can be quantifiably rated on their performances.
  • More practice with relevant skills Because the only exposure to the Simulation environment occurs during the main simulation at the end of the semester, there isn’t time allocated to the students to identify and practice the skills necessary to facilitate a successful Simulation. We want to give the students more time to progress the skills directly relevant to the Simulation.
  • More feedback on skill development Students learn best with appropriate feedback. By providing formative structure for feedback, students can further develop their skills in areas they are deficient. This will provide the students an opportunity to continue to work on their skills as relevant to the Simulation, and carry these skills with them into the work place.
  • Overall assessment on performance By providing the students with an aggregation of the quantifiable scores along with the constructive qualitative feedback, students will essentially have a formative assessment report that provides insight into their strengths and weaknesses and take the necessary steps to work on their performance in the main Simulation.

In 2014, we help students prepare with the following opportunities:

  • Breakdown of skills We identified four skill areas necessary for successful performance in the Simulation: decision making, teamwork, information gathering and analysis, and advocacy and articulation.
  • Mini-simulations For each of the identified four skill areas, we created four mini-simulations that target development of these skills. Each mini-simulation is one hour in length and is developed in parallel with the coursework. This gives students the ability to work on these specific skills prior to the main Simulation – in a Simulation context.
  • Simulation design course is offered to a select group of students who have participated in past simulations, and desire to contribute to the Conterterrorism Simulation.
  • Feedback on skills Performance rubrics have been created for each identified skill. With the rubric, we can provide two different types of useful feedback for the students as they work through the mini-simulation. First, we can provide them with quantifiable information (a score) on their performance as it relates to the rubric. Second, qualitative feedback is provided for each criteria of the rubric. An iPad application was developed to give our raters an easy to use tool to collect this feedback information. 
  • Assessment reports After each mini-simulation, the student is given a printed report that aggregates the quantitative and qualitative feedback provided by the raters of that mini-simulation. This clearly outlines the student’s performance and allows the student to identify and improve on weaknesses.
  • Changes to main simulation In order to focus on the quality of the learning experience, we’ve made some changes to the main simulation. We are separating the students into three groups. Each group participates in a four hour main Simulation. This will level the importance of each role within the simulation and provides a better opportunity for the students to be rated on their performance. Each of the three groups run through the same simulation scenario, so in addition to within student comparisons, the raters can also provide between-group comparisons of performance.

Each year we look to improve the simulation from an educational and logistical standpoint, and we would like to extend an invitation to you to participate and to provide us with your feedback. Each year we broadcast the simulation live on the Internet. In addition to watching the performance of the students, you will also have an opportunity to provide important feedback to the students using our improved dashboard. We look forward to your attendance and participation.