Although social inequality is critical to the study of sociology, it is particularly challenging to teach about race, class and gender inequality to students who belong to privileged social groups. Simulation games are often used successfully to address this pedagogical challenge. While debriefing is a critical component of simulation exercises that focus on teaching about social inequality, empirical assessments of the significance and effectiveness of this tool is virtually nonexistent in sociology and other social sciences. This paper analyzes the significance of debriefing in a simulation game called “Cultural Capital in the Classroom” in order to address this lacunae in the pedagogy literature. The analyses reveal that the simulation contributed to students developing a greater degree of empathy for the working class and that the individual debriefing was a crucial step in developing students’ critical thinking skills. Students gain even deeper insights during the collective debriefing session, which influenced them to question the validity of the ideology of meritocracy.

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Copyright © 2015 International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. This article first appeared in International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 27:1 (2015), 94-103.

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