Smith, Kelly and Jensen, Kathrine (2015) Evaluating use of the SimVenture computer-based business simulation. In: ISBE Conference 2015, 10th - 12th November 2015, Glasgow.

The paper evaluates the impact of one of the market-leading computer-based start-up business simulations – SimVenture – using a version of the Rugby Team Impact Framework (RTIF; e.g. Bromley et al., 2012) adapted by the authors for use within an enterprise education context. Four case studies of the use of SimVenture in non-Business School subjects in Higher Education in the UK are described and analysed using the RTIF.

Prior Work
A survey of entrepreneurship education programmes conducted in 2006 by McKeown et al. concluded that delivery methods proved to be more traditional than anticipated, with few instances of action learning or the use of technology to support learning. Serious games, including business computer-based business simulations, have the potential to support learning by doing (Williams 2011, QAA 2012, Lopes et al. 2013), and have been shown to develop a range of skills including those described as necessary for the 21st Century (Romero et al., 2015). There are, however, few examples in the literature evaluating student-focused impact of business simulations in non-Business School subjects. With increasing calls to spread enterprise and entrepreneurship education to all (Anderson et al, 2014; Young, 2014), can serious games and business simulations such as SimVenture provide an effective solution?

Four undergraduate programmes in a range of non-Business subject areas (including computing and information systems; fashion and textiles; and veterinary practice) were selected for in-depth interviews following a literature review and web-based desk exercise to identify examples of practice. Case studies were produced exploring why SimVenture was chosen for use with students; how it was used (make-up of student cohort; size of working groups; number of sessions and over what time period, etc.); how learning was assessed; evaluation of learning and process; and lessons learned by the educator. The impact of SimVenture on student behaviour, learning, and longer term outcomes was analysed using the RTIF.

The RTIF proved a useful tool for assessing the impact of SimVenture. All case studies reported positive outcomes for students with evidence of increased business and finance knowledge, skills development, and a wider appreciation of career options. Improved attendance and retention rates as a direct result of using SimVenture were also reported at one institution. Suggestions for practice are presented using the case study examples.

The results of the research suggest that serious games, in this case business simulations (using SimVenture as a specific example) can have positive outcomes on the student experience and business skills development through learning by doing.

The paper contributes to the literature on use of computer-based business simulations, providing specific examples of practice that can be used by academics looking to embed enterprise and entrepreneurship education in non-Business subject-specific curricular. It also introduces an adapted framework which can be used to evaluate the impact of enterprise and entrepreneurship education programmes.

ISBE Smith and Jensen 2015 - SimVenture - updated.pdf - Accepted Version

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