1 Universitat Rovira i Virgili (SPAIN)
2 Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3718-3725
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
Under the advent of the European Space of Superior Education, a radical change is happening from a learning model focused on contents to a model focused on processes and competences (Mulder et al., 2005). With the appearance of this new pedagogic learning model, European universities are making relevant efforts to implement learning methods that help to develop the student’s competences. Business games are being increasingly used in business schools, faculties and professional associations all over the world as a teaching method to simulate a business context through software (Chang et al., 2003). In the simulated context created by the game, participants make decisions in teams regarding different functional areas of a company and compete with classmates representing other enterprises (Carroll, 1958; Faria and Dickinson, 1994).

The literature has recognised some relevant benefits of this teaching method in enhancing the learning process of participants, their motivation and active learning (Zantow et al., 2005). However, most research has been based on the Anglo-Saxon context and has analysed the effectiveness of business games from the instructor’s perspective (Wolfe, 1985), not from the students’ point of view (Chang et al., 2003).

In this regard, this study seeks to analyse the student’s perception of the role of business games as a learning tool in terms of the competences acquired by the participants. The focus is on Spanish postgraduate students in management courses using a business game, and certain comparisons were made with similar studies in Ireland and Portugal.

The research was conducted with a survey of 132 students at postgraduate level concerning their views toward using the business game Cesim Global Challenge. This game allows decisions to be taken on different functional areas for an international mobile telecommunications company operating in the USA, Asia and Europe.

Our results indicate that students evaluated the experience with the game positively and also the competences acquired. The most valued competences fostered by the game were teamwork, decision-making, the understanding of how a business works and the analysis of financial information; the most valuable experiences were active participation and fun.

This exploratory study has reflected the favourable attitude of Spanish students toward the use of a business game as a learning tool, and has allowed us to develop some comparisons with similar students in other European countries also adopting the new leaning model of the European Space of Superior Education, confirming the usefulness of business game to develop important skills, to learn concepts related to business and to enhance the understanding of managing a company.
Business games, students' perceptions, competences.