High Schools, Community Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania are being pressured to prove that their school curriculum is improving overall student knowledge, retention rate and employability.
Studies show that business simulations provide students with experiential, reflective, action-oriented and discursive learning (Hoover et al., 2001), and Drexel University is a fantastic example of a school that has seen outstanding results after integrating a Smartsims business simulation game into their curriculum.
Business Simulation Explained
Business students in their freshman year are given the opportunity to create and maintain a simulated company which they will gain control of progressively. Eventually, they will be responsible for pricing, marketing, distributing, and managing operations and finance; instilling in them valuable decision-making skills.
Simulations bridge the gap between theory and practice, preparing students for life after college in a pragmatic way. The benefits of experiential learning are manifold, and other universities in America will benefit from getting on-board this latest education trend.
Students Vouch for Business Simulation
Business simulations adhere to the group environment; students prefer to be taught through involvement rather than being ‘taught at’ in a traditional lecture style (Reynolds, 1997). This is confirmed by freshman students at Drexel University who use the MikesBikes Intro simulation in their Foundations of Business course. One student who was interviewed said business simulations enabled him to “demonstrate knowledge in another way, besides on paper”.
The general response to experiential learning is enthusiastic and positive. Students at Drexel University said they preferred hands-on learning over burying their head in a textbook, as it not only makes learning fun, but helps them apply practical skills in preparation for the ‘real world’.
Experiential Learning for Real-World Experience
Research shows that experiential learning leads to higher employability. There is a positive correlation between simulation performance and future workplace salaries and promotions (Gosen & Washbush, 2004). Which means that students, like those at Drexel University, have more security and assurance in regards to employment.
Simulation teaches students the fundamentals of business, helps them develop acute analysis skills and offers insight to the cross-functionalities of management. It is an innovative solution to silent, inactive classrooms. Experiential learning demands active participation, motivating students to think for themselves and assume responsibility for their simulated company. It also makes room for a deeper understanding of business. Furthermore, the level of personal engagement fuels a healthy, competitive nature that pushes students to do their best.
Business simulations encourage an emotional connection to be made between the theory, strategy and application; being emotionally involved has shown increased learning (Kilmann, 1975). Overall, studies point to the success simulations can provide. For schools looking to improve student knowledge, retention rate and employability, it’s clear that experiential learning could be the answer.