GSCM - Montpellier Business School (FRANCE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 4971-4979
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Theoretical background

One of the natural ways of acquiring knowledge in a specific area is to be immersed in real-life situations and to practice. This mode of acquisition (learning-by-doing), while very efficient transmitting operational knowledge, is difficult to implement in a classroom. In the context of business education, three alternative solutions are available:
- case studies;
- a practical stage within a company;
- business simulation games.

This paper attempts to investigate the use of computing simulation games as a pedagogical platform for MBA strategic marketing courses, and to identify the specific success factors in using Markops simulation.

The experiential learning facilitated by Markops represents a direct application of the Kolb Learning Cycle, one of the most popular theories of learning (Kolb, 1984; Fry et al., 2000). The correct analysis and appreciation of experiential learning methods is necessary to understand different types of teaching activities, such as work-based learning, teaching laboratory and practical work, action-learning, role-playing, and many types of small group teaching (Fry et al., 2000). The Kolb model frequently appears in the literature, often modified to accommodate particular types of learning (or training) experiences and using alternative or simplified terminology (e.g. Coles, 1998; Race, 1994 and 1996).

Research methodology

The following research objectives have been formulated for this study:
1. To analyze the application of simulation games from the perspective of the Kolb learning cycle.
2. To identify the main success factors for the application of the Markops simulation software.
3. To analyze the relation between these success factors and the performance obtained by student groups in the simulation game.

To answer these research objectives, both secondary and primary data have been collected and analyzed. In the first stage of the research process a series of pedagogical texts have been accessed in order to develop a framework of analysis in relation to the Kolb learning cycle. Then, in the second phase of the research project, primary data has been collected through face-to face interviews with MBA students participating in the Markops simulation, regarding their perception of the main success factors. In total 23 students have participated in this study, representing the full-time MBA students that played Markops simulation during the academic years 2006/2007 and 2007/2008.

Main findings

The cyclical model of learning described by Kolb requires four types of abilities/undertaking for its successful application:
- concrete experience (CE);
- reflective observation (RO);
- abstract conceptualisation (AC), and
- active experimentation (AE).
The Markops simulation has specific elements that correspond to each of these phases; however, their application should be properly organized by the simulation tutor.

The main success factors indicated by students for an effective implementation of the Markops simulation were:
- knowledge of the Markops simulation;
- knowledge of Strategic marketing theory and practice;
- intra-team interaction;
- technology performance; and
- tutor’s support.

The results showed a close connection between students’ satisfaction with these factors and the performance obtained by student groups during Markops simulation.
computer simulation, success factors, Markops.