In-Class Simulation Games: Assessing Student Learning
Kenneth J. Klassen, Brock University, Canada ; Keith A. Willoughby, Bucknell University, United States
JITE-Research Volume 2, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute
As instructors continue developing useful learning tools for their classrooms, games have become one popular alternative. This paper explains an inventory simulation game, two methods for evaluating whether students learn from playing the game, and the results from two experiments evaluating student learning. An effective game will help students understand concepts more quickly and remember them better than from a lecture. The game used here is a simulation of an inventory system, where student teams place orders for an item on a monthly basis (based on limited knowledge of prior demand), and then the instructor informs them what the demand is for that month. There are holding costs for items not sold and shortage costs if they run out of items. The students then place their order for the next month. To evaluate student learning, two methods were used: a before-and-after questionnaire, and playing the game twice. Both methods allowed for an initial benchmark to be established, followed by a measure of how much students improved. For the questionnaire, answers were scored and a paired-comparison t-test was calculated to assess learning. When the game was played twice, a few things were calculated regarding student performance, including the change in student profits. Most results point to the conclusion that students learned from the game. Basic inventory knowledge increased, students gained an appreciation for the complexity of inventory issues and of decision making in general, and students enjoyed the game and thought it was a worthwhile learning experience. It was evident that many students grasped the larger strategic issues and were beginning to apply them more broadly. Although not all changes were statistically significant, most did improve, suggesting that students developed a deeper hands-on understanding of the issues. The current study is confirmatory in the general use of simulation games, although it adds to existing literature in that little exists on operations management and information systems games and their assessment. Also, this study involves two independent assessments of the same game, two different instruments, and two different universities.
Klassen, K.J. & Willoughby, K.A. (2003). In-Class Simulation Games: Assessing Student Learning. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 2(1), 1-13. Informing Science Institute.
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