One of the hot topics of the education industry currently is the learning assessment of students and how to measure whether business school students truly derive that much touted value from their oftentimes expensive studies. After all, one of the hardest jobs teachers have is to ensure that they aren't merely reciting lecture slides, but pass on and create valuable knowledge in an increasingly demanding environment. Notice that I intentionally used the word 'create' in addition to 'pass on', to highlight the growing importance of collaborative learning in all disciplines, where knowledge is indeed created by the discussion amongst students as much as by the educator's contribution.
Traditional essay based examinations are still widely used in most class formats, in business simulation based courses, however, the instructor takes on the role of a facilitator, which requires not only a slightly different mindset but a novel learning measurement toolkit as well.
Here are four additional ways in which you can find out whether your students have understood the business concepts taught to them and more importantly if they can apply them in a dynamic simulated business environment:
1. Concept maps (Mind maps)
In his keynote speech at the 2011 ABSEL conference, Dr. Alberto J. Cañas (Associate Director and Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Human & Machine Cognition) talked about the utilization of mind maps or concept maps as a learning assessment tool.
A concept map (a collection of diagrams that graphically represents the relationships between concepts) is often used to make sense of complex topics by depicting how various ideas are connected to each other.
This quality makes concept maps a great tool to do two things: assess existing student knowledge (prior to the course), and measure change in said knowledge (after the course):
- Have your students develop a concept map about the topic of your course (eg.: international business and strategy) at the beginning (prior to playing business management games)
- Have your students develop another concept map about the topic of your course at the end (after playing business simulator games)
- Compare the two maps and identify changes in students' grasp of the topic of your course
2. Strategy created by participants
Once the students have created a general outline of what they expect to learn on your course, it is time to get into the specifics of the business strategy games.
After familiarizing themselves with the business games' case, have your students develop a high level corporate strategy for their virtual companies complete with mission, vision, objectives and resource allocation based on long term planning.
It is pivotal that your students understand the importance of creating a sustainable and growing business for the long term, and written corporate strategies are a good way to put this to the test.
3. Analysis of interim and final results
A corporate strategy means little however if the people who wrote it aren't able to analyze the company's performance over time and adjust their strategy when necessary. A balanced scorecard is a strategic performance measurement tool that can be used for this purpose.
Depending on the number of rounds you decide to have in your simulation-based course, you may have less or more chances to do this, but the ability to shift gears when market forces demand is one of the most important learning outcomes students can get from playing Cesim business simulation games. Hence, measuring their competence in this regard will give you a good understanding of their business decision-making skills.
Lastly, Cesim business simulations come with integrated quizzes, that can be invaluable to measure the students understanding of the key concepts of the games.
These quizzes contain 10 simulation-specific questions and should typically be utilized after the 1st round of business simulators.