An evaluation of business simulation games for the Management module of the MEng Aeronautical Engineering degree at Loughborough University
conference contributionposted on 30.09.2009, 08:31 by Melanie KingMelanie King, Richard Newman, Rob Thring
There is a drive within engineering disciplines at Loughborough University to develop the employability skills of undergraduate students. The engCETL (Engineering Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning) has a broad remit to enhance links with industry and to underpin developments in learning and teaching with pedagogic research and technology development. The Centre does this through research and development projects that are proposed by academics within the engineering related departments and carried out in conjunction with specialists from the engCETL team. Prof Rob Thring, Head of the Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering Department proposed a project to the engCETL. His requirement was for some form of business simulation software for the undergraduates to use as part of the Management module on the MEng programme. Currently the students come up with an idea for a new business, create a business plan for the venture and take part in a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style presentation at the end of the project to representatives from the department and industry. However, the department would like to take this project a step further and provide the students with the opportunity to take part in a simulated business environment where they could explore the idea of setting up or running a business as close to the real world as possible. The intention would be to enliven and enrich the student’s learning experience with skills development such as; enterprise, leadership, management, teamwork, fiscal sense, business judgement and inventiveness amongst others. An interdisciplinary project team was formed to try and resolve the pedagogic, technical and business aspects that would need to be addressed in order to implement such software within the MEng programme. The approach taken has been to form a set of criteria based on certain curriculum requirements but keep the brief broad and carry out a scoping study of existing software (commercial and open source) and take account of the academic literature in this area. After the initial scoping study, our findings indicate two commercial business simulations that have potential for use on the course. These were; ‘Marketplace Simulation’ (http://www.marketplace-simulation.co.uk) and SimVenture (http://www.simventure.co.uk). An in-depth evaluation was then carried out for the two simulations. This evaluation comprised two teams made up of academics, industrial representatives and engCETL staff. The software was thoroughly examined in terms of what each application could offer to the learning experience of the students, resources to support staff and the costs involved, for example, staff time in embedding the software into the curriculum.This paper will highlight the approach taken, findings and recommendations from the evaluation of the two business simulations. The recommendations will be presented in the context of all engineering disciplines and will cover; appropriateness of the chosen software for the programme level, plans for embedding into the curriculum, potential learning outcomes and assessment methods. It will benefit all those interested in methods for evaluating potential simulation games for suitability within the curriculum and the development of enterprise and employability skills.
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