Effective Teaching Methods for Business Simulators

5 Effective Teaching Strategies for Business Simulation Games

Are you thinking about incorporating business simulation games into your courses or training programs?

Studies have proven that business simulations have the potential to improve student engagement, learning and employability. However, whether you are a new or experienced simulation user, it is extremely important to look for the best strategies to ensure smooth integration of the simulation into a course and maximize teaching and learning benefits.

Let’s take a look at the top five teaching strategies for effective integration of business simulator games:

1. Align simulation with course learning objectives

Since there are many decision making elements in a simulation game (e.g. demand, production, HR, R&D, marketing, logistics and finance decisions), it is necessary for faculty to decide which decisions to emphasize, downplay or ignore in line with the planned learning goals of the course. It is very important for instructors to first identify their learning objectives and use simulations as a tool or means to achieve the objectives. One option for alignment is to follow a standard sequence of brief-play-debrief activities with a debrief session held after every business strategy game round.

2. Introduce complexity gradually

As simulator games can be fairly complex for students, especially for those without much hands-on business experience, instructors can delay the use of certain functions of the business strategy game to fit the course. This way each simulation round has its own specific learning objectives. Most business simulations offer customization and module options for instructors to tailor the decisions to emphasize the level and complexity of the simulation. This will empower instructors to be able to curate the best business simulation experience for their students. It is also a good idea to have a few practice rounds with students, so they can get familiar with the decision making and the simulated business environment.

3. Get to know the simulation yourself

For academic faculty who are new to business simulations, the best resources you can turn to for a better understanding of the business game are the materials given by the simulation providers themselves. The best way is to actually get involved with the strategy game yourself and get familiar with the experience that students are likely to have. This way you will also be more prepared for the sorts of questions that are likely to come your way. If possible, consult with other instructors who have had experience with business simulations.

4. Include simulation in the assessment

The best way to keep students engaged and motivated in the business simulation is to award points according to the team ranking in the simulation. Another way is for instructors to decide on a set of winning criteria and communicate this to the students. However, performance alone may not be the best reflection of learning and understanding; other assessment methods such as exams, essays, and group presentations should be included as well. In addition to team ranking, grades should take into consideration how the team has played and strategized.

5. Be clear about your role

This is likely to be a new role for you as a course instructor, so it is best to be very clear about your role and how you can help students get the most out of the experience. Instructors should act as guides and help students think through the consequences of each decision, structure a sustainable, competitive strategy and link this analysis to the learning objectives of the course. The role of the instructor is to provide options, point out gaps in strategy and share trends; rather than give clear instructions that are meant to be followed strictly.

Interested in finding out more about how to use simulations in your course or training?

Boston-based Smartsims is a leader in business simulations and has a range of business simulation games that will challenge your students with issues from the real world. Smartsims also runs the MikesBikes Business Simulation World Championship, which gets top performing teams from across the world to compete for cash prizes and a championship certificate.

Professor Bertels from College of Staten Island’s School of Business shares that incorporating business simulations into her management course has given huge benefits to her students. In particular, students gained a greater understanding of business overall and the ability to apply business concepts in real world scenarios.

Call us or inquire for a free quote today to find out more about how to incorporate a business strategy game into your course.