A Framework for Determining the Pedagogical Value of Simulation Gaming: Implications for Future Simulation Gaming Research


  • A. Parasuraman


" Simulation gaming is becoming part of the curricula of an increasing number of business schools. However, only a limited amount of effort has been made to research the effectiveness of simulation games. According to Greenlaw and Wyman: “In summary, the effort and expenditures which have thus far been invested in developing business games have not been justified by the knowledge of specifically what games teach, if anything.” [2, p. 292] Even the limited number of studies researching the effectiveness of simulation games have only led to ambiguous findings. A study by Boseman and Schellenberger [1] found that participation in a management game does not provide increased motivation, interest and learning for students. A review by Pierfy [31 of 22 studies that researched the effectiveness of simulation vis-à-vis other teaching tools, concludes that simulation games are no better than conventional teaching methods in fostering student learning. However, this review also found that simulation games are better in terms of increasing student interest and their retention of learned information. The inability of research studies to conclusively establish the worth of simulation gaming might, at least in part, be due to the nature of the choice and administration of the simulation games that were researched, rather than the games per se. The novelty of the simulation gaming approach to instruction will not, by itself, ensure its effectiveness when used in a course. For instance, Greenlaw and Wyman [2] have suggested that the success or failure of a business game depends on a complex set of factors, including those related to the game itself, the game participants, the game administrator, and the game administration procedure. If simulation gaming is to be as effective as it is popular, there is a great need for a set of guidelines: (a) to help an instructor determine whether or not simulation gaming would be beneficial in a certain course; and (b) to help him/her make the most useful game-related choices so as to minimize the effectiveness of the simulation game in a course suited for its use. This paper will propose, and discuss, a conceptual framework that will lead to a broad set of such "