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'Day in the Office' simulation puts UNI graduate students in the principal's chair

June 16, 2011

Nick Pace, associate professor, UNI educational leadership and postsecondary education, 319-273-3564,

Victoria Robinson, interim department head, UNI Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education, 319-273-3070,

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- More than 40 graduate students in the University of Northern Iowa principalship program will become principals for a day during a role playing exercise on June 21. The simulation, titled "Day in the Office" places students in a mock office where they will encounter real- life issues that school principals face on a daily basis.

Throughout the day, former principalship students, as well as UNI faculty and staff, will play the roles of students, parents and other principal-office visitors to present scenarios for the graduate students to work through. Once the issue is resolved, students will debrief with professors to discuss what went well and other possible solutions.

Nick Pace, UNI associate professor of educational leadership and postsecondary education, developed the exercise five years ago to better prepare students for their careers as principals. "This simulation allows students to think on their feet and apply what they have learned in class," said Pace. "The hands- on experience is much more beneficial then simply writing a final paper."

Victoria Robinson, interim department head of educational leadership and postsecondary education at UNI, calls the exercise a unique, authentic learning opportunity. "In a five-hour timeframe, students will get 20 snapshots of real-life scenarios," said Robinson.

The simulation was the inspiration for a book and DVD being released this fall, titled "The Principal's Hot Seat: Observing Real-World Dilemmas." Pace says that 15 of the most popular scenarios used in the simulation will be featured in the book and on the DVD.