The Role of Learning versus Performance Orientations When Reacting to Negative Outcomes in Simulation Games: Further Insights


  • James W. Gentry
  • John R. Dickinson
  • Alvin C. Burns
  • Lee McGinnis
  • Ju Young Park


We study student reactions to negative outcomes from simulation games in order to investigate whether “trial and error” learning is in fact a positive learning experience. Drawing on Dweck’s (1990) body of work, we expect that students with learning orientations will react very favorably to negative outcomes, but that students with performance orientations will not. The possibility of learned helplessness resulting from game play is a dismal outcome for students with performance orientations. A study was conducted in 2005 using a simulation experience in an MBA Marketing class at the University of Windsor (n=33). The results showed a modicum of support for the contention that learning oriented students handle negative experiences with resilience; these results were presented at the ABSEL Conference in San Francisco. However, numerous measurement problems were encountered in attempting to classify students as learning oriented OR performance oriented. Alternative measurement instruments for the constructs were tested at three other academic institutions (n=489) and a second simulation study was conducted at the University of Windsor. Partial results (measurementoriented) are reported here and the results of the second study would be reported in San Antonio.