Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Jennifer Steele

Committee Co-Chair

Amy Hirshman

Committee Member

Melissa Latimer


Students today are unique. They are the first generation to be "growing up digital" and are distinctly different from their baby boomer parents. As a result, this net generation does not fit well within the passive nature of the standard format of classes. One technique, employed by a growing number of faculty within the field of teaching and learning, to facilitate experiential learning is the use of simulations. One example is the simulation Star Power, which simulates the use/abuse of power, stratification, and inequality. Simulations such as Star Power can be a vital tool for teaching core sociological concepts, including social stratification and social structure by allowing students to actually experience the concepts. More specifically, Star Power provides an opportunity for students to experience social inequality and stratification in a way they may have never experienced it before. While the majority of previous studies on Star Power focus on affective responses to the simulation, this study examined both affective and cognitive responses to Star Power. The data for this study were obtained through the use of survey methodology and qualitative analysis of reflection papers. The sample for this research consisted of all students enrolled in four sections of SO101: Discovering Society at a small comprehensive college in central Pennsylvania during the 2012-2013 Academic Year and 2013 Fall Semester. Students in the course are required to participate in the Star Power simulation and a debriefing session, and then write a 3-5 page reflection paper linking their simulation experiences with class concepts. The sample sizes were 114 (pre-test), 110 (post test), and 126 (reflection papers). Analysis of data revealed 100 percent of students found Star Power worthwhile and all but two recommended it be used in future classes. In addition, six themes were identified through an analysis of reflection papers illustrating the perceived value of the simulation by students. Furthermore, five statistically significant relationships reflected changing views of the importance of coming from a wealthy family, hard work, religion, part of the country and being born a man or a woman after participation in the simulation. The findings of this research will be beneficial to inequality instructors, sociology teachers, and scholars interested in the field of teaching and learning.