EXTENSIVE CUSTOMER FEEDBACK USED IN DEVELOPMENT
Our simulation was designed and enhanced, over many years, based on extensive customer feedback to overcome many of the concerns/issue raised by instructors with respect to adopting and using simulations as a pedagogical tool. To explain, we will list the concerns/issues raised by instructors, followed by how we have addressed their concerns (our solutions).
Instructor Concern: How do I use it (integrate it) into my course?
- Solution: Detailed course outlines (partial syllabi), with videos, are provided suggesting how the simulation could be integrated into the course, including a capstone approach where it is used near the end of the course, versus one in which it is used throughout the course.
Instructor Concern: The simulation may be too complex for my course or for certain students. Student abilities and decision-making skills vary. Some students even struggle with how to begin to make effective decisions for their firm.
- Solution 1: The instructor may simplify the simulation by reducing the number of decisions a student must make each period. It could vary between only 2 decisions or as many as 8 decisions per period.
- Solution 2: Guidelines for students on how to make each of the major firm decisions are given in the simulation. The guidelines, called info buttons, are located next to each major firm decision.
- Solution 3: The simulation could be played in teams or individually. Teamwork may be helpful as students will learn from each other. Also, the instructor could set up some simulations with teams and others as “single-player”, i.e., done individually.
Instructor Concern: If a student asks me (the instructor) why their simulation results are not good or how they could improve, it will take me (the instructor) much time and effort to explain it to the students.
- Solution: There is a built-in computerized consultant that provides feedback to the student, after each decision period on what to look at in the simulation to improve.
Instructor Concern: How do I know students are learning from the simulation, or what they are learning.
- Solution: A set of graded simulation exercises are provided regarding most of the major topics taught in the course (currently 17) that require students to look at the simulation results, and answer questions based on the simulation results.
Instructor Concern: It will take me much time to grade the simulation games and exercises.
- Solution: All the simulations and exercises are automatically graded and reported in the instructor’s online account.
Instructor Concern: What if some of the students are not doing well on the simulation exercises, how will I handle this?
- Solution: Exercises may be repeated as many times as the instructor allows. The exercises are based on simulation game results and change each time a new exercise is played. The students can keep re-doing the exercises and learn the more they play. Repeats can be limited by the instructor or the due date for the exercise.
Instructor Concern: Setting up the software for my class may be difficult.
- Solution: If asked, we (Gold Simulations) will set up the simulation for you or with you (for free).
HOW WILL OUR SIMULATION MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
An important unmet need that has been identified is to improve the analytical and problem-solving skills of our students. A great feature of our simulation is that all the data may be exported to excel, by the students. This promotes data analysis including graphing. Also, it makes the data relevant because students will be evaluating “real” data from their simulations. So, for example, it is possible to estimate marginal cost and marginal revenue, price elasticity, etc., so these numbers have true meaning and are relevant because they can actually be used to make better decisions. Typically, in most all courses student use hypothetical data to measure economic variables, like marginal cost or marginal revenue, so the numbers are boring, or are not meaningful in terms of using the numbers.
The simulation makes the economic concepts “come alive” and makes the course more exciting; which is “needed” in some economics courses.