Luther sophomore researches role-playing simulation method in the learning of modern languages

July 12, 2018

Students of all ages struggle to have fun engaging with and understanding foreign cultures and global citizenship. Levi Bird, Luther College sophomore of Muscoda, Wisconsin, is researching and creating historically based role-playing simulations in order to stimulate and to engage students in the learning of modern languages.

Bird, the son of Jeremy and Sarah Bird of Muscoda, is a 2017 graduate of Riverdale High School. He is majoring in Nordic studies at Luther.

Bird is working with Anne-Marine Feat, Luther associate professor of French, and Maren Johnson, Luther assistant professor of Nordic studies, on his project, “Reacting to the Past.” Other contributors include Nordic studies and French students from Luther and education students from the University of Agder in Norway.

For the “Reacting to the Past” (RTTP) project, Bird is developing two games revolving around Asbjørnsen and Moe, two Norwegian storyteller collectors, and French Huguenots seeking refuge in Denmark. His research began by playing and studying already published RTTP simulations to understand the precise way these games are meant to look and feel. Bird has discovered throughout this project that, “RTTP games from research like ours give students the skills and practice to engage in difficult discussion and topics, preparing them for a future where they can make educated decisions on politics and important events in the world.”

The importance of RTTP research such as this arrives out of the general goal of the game: student engagement with global citizenship. “The RTTP games are created in a format where students realize that not all major moments and debates in history are as simple as saying ‘Well, you could’ve easily avoided ___ by doing ___.’  It adds a level of complication because students come to the conclusion that people in history truly could not tell where their actions may have led them; there were risks on nearly every decision in some games,” said Bird.

Bird, Feat and Johnson’s collaboration is one of 30 summer student-faculty research projects funded through Luther’s College Scholars Program and Dean’s Office. The Student-Faculty Summer Research projects provide students an opportunity to research topics of interest alongside Luther faculty. This program is one of a wide selection of experiential learning opportunities that are part of Luther’s academic core and intend to deepen the learning process.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website: