Mondragon University (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 689-696
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.1128
Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain
Group Model Building (GMB) is understood as a form of group decision support that involves stakeholders working with a team to solve a focused problem in a complex system. GMB is one of the approaches that could be used for developing and simulating formal models for complex systems. Moreover, in this case the whole process is characterised by the challenge of achieving effective collaborations dealing with the lack of transparency and inability to assess hidden assumptions behind a model.

In this paper the methodology and results obtained from a GMB developed with students from Industrial Management bachelor are presented (we simulated a not real contracting of Google for a consultancy work). This article aims to show an innovative pedagogical application of the Group Model Building method held in Mondragon University Engineering School. The model boundary in this process was based on the analysis of the business model of Google, how to design their model, with the final aim of increasing their benefits. The session took place on two hours, each student had a different role (consultancy facilitator, manager, IT worker from Google, innovation department worker of the company, and modeller). After the session, which was recorded in class to facilitate the later work (simulation model construction), students needed four more hours to refine the conceptual model and build the simulation model.

On the one hand, the work aims to enhance the use of active methodologies with bachelor degree level students. This methodology demands for a high degree of involvement of the participants, students. They must take an specific role, so, they develop creativity, initiative, and problem solving capacity through the process of conceptual model definition (variables, arrows and polarities). Students learnt this methodology used by researchers to help real companies with the decision making process. In addition, group decision making is reinforced trough an standardised procedure. Moreover, after the session, students built a System Dynamics (SD) model for the creation of the simulated scenarios for Google, in order to help the company of study, to obtain more benefits. The conclusions of the experience showed that group building is a key to unlocking new knowledge. Students perspectives were included on the learning process basing on real companies concerns, and the process resulted in a shared vision, what helps the students to understand the company reality.

The results suggest that team involvement exercises enhance students’ autonomy, initiative, and active learning. In addition, GMB is helpful for decision making and communication skills development. It is the base for:
(i) developing the capacity of thinking of the “big picture”, for
(ii) improving the balance between short-term and long-term perspectives of the participants (students), and
(iii) promoting the recognition of dynamic, complex and interdependent nature of the systems.
Group Model Building, Active Learning, Teaching Methodologies, System Dynamics.