Simulations Spark Engagement and Real Learning

This article by Dr. Ernest Cadotte was originally published in full by AACSB.

Knowledge is not skill. There is a wide gap between knowing what to do and being able to do it. Whether someone is attempting to play a sport, master an art, or become a savvy business manager, the only way to transform knowledge into skill is through practice.

One of the best ways for students to gain practice is through simulations that allow them to apply and refine their knowledge. A highly engaging simulation can provide students with a holistic vision of business and the knowledge and skills they need to become career-ready.

In the context of a simulation, people go through four stages of learning: They assess their current situation, reflect on how to apply their knowledge, decide the best course of action, and act on their decisions. As part of a continuous learning cycle, they update their knowledge and begin the whole process again, developing their skills through repeated practice. This cycle is very similar to the four-part model of learning styles that David Kolb described in 1984.

Business faculty can design simulation games that engage and inspire students and maximize their emotional involvement and their learning. Even a single course can be structured to provide meaningful learner-to-learner, learner-to-faculty, and learner-to-industry professional engagement.

Simulations present concepts in ways that are more visual, intuitive, and contextualized than lectures, readings, and cases. By providing students with challenges to solve, simulations gamify the acquisition of knowledge. This heightens student attention and makes the learning process fun.

Keep reading to learn seven core beliefs to shape your simulation strategy.