An Exploratory Investigation of Student Perceptions of Computer Simulation as an Educational Tool


  • Thomas A. Chisholm
  • Parameswar Krishnakumar
  • James P. Clay


" The general literature which covers the teaching of various business administration courses is being increasingly comprised of explanations and instructions relative to the utilization of computer simulations, strategic games and optimization techniques. The number of readily available simulation devices is multiplying on an hourly basis as text publishers, professional associations and others venture forth with their individual contributions to this specific aspect of the educational process. At times it seems that the techniques of computer simulation have become the present day successors to the case approach which assumed ubiquitous proportions just a few years ago. At that time, and in some places still, no self respecting professor of business would, or for that matter in a professional sense could, admit the use of cases and case analysis was not a part of his or her coursework. As a result of such a wholehearted adoption of this particular academic technique there were the inevitable problems of over use and inappropriate use. Thus it was not uncommon to find college students with little or no background in a particular subject embarking on attempts to analyze cases of varying degrees of complexity. The inevitable result of such a policy is that an otherwise highly useful pedagogical tool becomes little more than a futile exercise in shared ignorance. In summation, the problem of the overuse of the case approach was attributed in some degree to a headlong rush into the technique with almost no concomitant efforts to evaluate either the general effectiveness of such devices or the true impact of the use on the learning process in general and on the students in particular. Thus it is in this spirit of exploration that the authors of this paper have undertaken to add in some small degree to what appears to be a general lack of investigation as to the academic impact of the use of simulation techniques in the typical college classroom. We share a common concern that those of us who are interested in computer simulation are frequently somewhat mesmerized by the descriptions of the programs and what they are ostensibly designed to accomplish and thus tend to neglect an equally important dimension of our responsibility; namely, what do the students think and how do they react to the use of simulations in classroom. "