Simulations in Education

Moratis, Hoff, and Reul identify two challenges facing management education. These challenges include relevance and development of innovative learning methods for educating students. Furthermore, business schools are criticized on the irrelevance of the management theory being taught as well as the outdated processes used to teach the students. One way to innovate a classroom is to use a simulation in order to allow students to see the relevance of the material in which they are learning throughout the course. This hands-on approach, as noted by Draijer and Schenk, “motivates students and supports their understanding of business processes”.

A benefit of using simulated environments in the classroom is that it encourages students to critically think through situations that may not have a simple solution. Springer and Borthick in their research discuss how students “need opportunities to learn to solve problems by constructing their own representation of the situation and creating their own understandings of what it means to develop and present acceptable solutions”. In particular, the use of simulations could cause a developmental shift from knowing to thinking in a course by shifting from structured problems at the end of a chapter to unstructured scenarios that may generate interest in the concepts being discussed. Avramenko also argues that business simulation software should be utilized for decision making.

Avarmenko also denotes other benefits of computer-based business simulations. These benefits include risk-free environments, simplified real-world scenarios, learning by comparison, and time management. In addition. Tanner, Stewart, Totaro, and Hargave discuss the benefits perceived by
students as engaging, useful, effective learning tools, and effective in promoting teamwork.

A study conducted by Walters, Coalter, and Rasheed set out to determine if simulation games are an effective tool in business policy courses. The conclusion, determined from the research, showed that simulations are an effective tool in a classroom and allowed students in a business policy course to implement strategic concepts with some degree of realism. Furthermore, the study noted that “business games and simulations appear to be an effective pedagogical tool at the undergraduate level”.

In order to maximize the use of simulations in the classroom, Walters, Coalter, and Rasheed provide some general guidelines for instructors who will be utilizing simulations within the course. In particular, their research notes that preparation by the student and the evaluation of their preparation is a major factor in performance in the simulation. The literature suggested conducting random tests throughout the semester in order to determine an individual’s awareness of the status of their team and
their rivals.