In the traditional classroom setting, students tend to interpret the knowledge and ideas in terms of that setting rather than in terms of the environment where the knowledge and ideas are needed. Hence, a divide exists between how students engage with the course content and how they will need to engage and use the legal doctrine in a real-world context. This divide often has a negative impact on learner motivation and on the learning process itself. In contrast, research has shown that real-world learning experiences have a positive impact on learner motivation and learning. The integration of a simulation into a course is one teaching strategy that can bridge this divide and serve to align classroom and real-world expectations.
A simulation is designed so that it will, as much as possible, mimic a real client situation so that students can explore, experiment with, and understand it before engaging with a live client. In a law school course, a simulation provides a structure through which students develop the knowledge, skills, and values that define an aspect of the legal profession. Whole course simulations are those in which the simulation becomes integrated throughout the course, and in fact forms the core around which the content of the class is delivered. These sorts of simulations can be particularly effective in merging law school content with legal practice.