Practice Makes Perfect – Experiential Learning Might Be the Solution

Higher education tends to place a large focus on teaching students how to succeed, both inside and outside of the classroom.  Addressing failure, however, is equally as important, and it is essential for students to recognize the value of learning from their mistakes. Starting as early as kindergarten and pre-school, students are taught that practice makes perfect. K-12 educators utilize repetition and encourage progress, teaching students the importance of correcting mistakes and continuous improvement. Higher education, on the other hand, does not allow ample room for failure in the classroom, and as a result, business students may not receive the proper education to prepare them for the challenges of the real world in order to become successful entrepreneurs.

“Grading leaves students with a fear of failure, when in fact students actually learn more from their failures than their successes.”

Practice Makes Perfect

One of the reasons many professors refrain from incorporating failure in their teaching methods comes from the grading process and its strong emphasis on achieving high scores. In most curriculums, grades are the only measure of success, which leads many students to focus more on their final grade than the knowledge and skills they actually gained from their education. Students who do not receive a certain grade are considered “failures”, but are rarely given the opportunity to correct or improve upon their mistakes, which would benefit their learning process immensely. Grading leaves students with a fear of failure, when, in fact, students actually learn more from their failures than their successes.

Why is experiential learning essential for business education?

Medical professionals, the military, and pilots all practice simulation training which exposes them to a variety of emergency situations past the point of failure, so they can identify their mistakes and avoid repeating them. Similarly, the process of launching a new business venture is complex and unpredictable, so students and future entrepreneurs can benefit from applying their skills in online business simulation games to better understand the impact of their decisions and actions. The business simulations may succeed or fail, but the overall outcome is not nearly as important as the explanations that the educational business games and instructors provide for its failures. Furthermore, experiential learning exercises allow students to learn and grow from their failure and encourages risk-taking, which is extremely important in entrepreneurship.

As Rachel Dene Poth, STEAM teacher in the Riverview School District in North Huntingdon, PA, stated in her article, 8 Things I Learned My First Year of Teaching With Project-Based Learning, “In order to prepare students for the real world, we should provide learning opportunities which connect them with people, perspectives, and experiences.” Online business simulations incorporate all of these things and more, making them an ideal teaching method and educational technology tool for higher education to encourage students to adapt a “practice makes perfect” mindset early in their careers.

For more information about the pedagogy of experiential learning, we encourage you to visit our collection of scholarly articles on the Marketplace Simulations site.