The Effect of Experiential Learning Experiences on Management Skills Acquisition
AbstractBusiness simulations allow students to experience a fictitious business in a safe learning environment. Students make decisions and try to understand business within a confined environment. Simulations permit students to use various management skills and see consequences from making decisions. Dutton (1985), in Teach and Schwartz (2004), suggested that business courses should be taught more in an experiential format, similar to natural science courses, thus making the learning process more interesting and involving the student in the learning process. This article will provide theoretical background on experiential learning, simulations, and management skills followed by a brief history of the management course offered at Morrisville State College. Thereafter, a discussion of the rewritten course currently taught will follow as a course offering management skills in experiential learning format. The student should learn in an environment similar to work that prepares students for success in business. Snow, Gehlen, and Green (2002) suggested that learning from the simulation varies in many ways that include: (a) the simulation introduction, (b) amount of class time, (c) impact on student grades, and (d) integration with the whole classroom experience. The students noted that the simulation was more useful for integrating the business education. Therefore, students placed more importance on the game. These students found that games or simulations were useful in (a) developing managerial skills, (b) learning new concepts, (c) developing planning skills,(d) using financial data in making decision and (e) improving teamwork skills. Whetton and Cameron (2005) found that simulations helped students gain management experience. The background on management skills provided a foundation for a current course that teaches management skills in an experiential learning format. Prior to 2003, BSAD 116 – Introduction to Management and Organization was a lecture-based course with supplemental exercises. After 2003, the rewritten course incorporated student-learning objectives and reflected an experiential learning environment. The new course provided students with the opportunity to experience management skills through student involvement and participation in simulated management decision-making activities using Smith and Golden’s Entrepreneur simulation (2002) in a safe environment.
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