Alignment of Teacher and Student Perceptions on the Continued Use of Business Simulation Games

Article excerpt


Most computer games emphasize commercial benefits or leisure interests, while only a small percentage of these simulation games are applicable to the business management curriculum in higher education (Virvou & Katsionis, 2008). However, over 95 percent of AACSB accredited business schools in the U.S.A. have incorporated business simulation games (BSGs) in their curricula, since over 200 games were available in the market in the 1980's (Wellington & Faria 1995). This high percentage of BSG usage in higher education has attracted academic research on BSG learning performance. Extent research on BSG has presented mixed results between learning performance and attitude (Vaidyanathan & Rochford, 1998) and thus the focus has shifted to other non-performance perspectives, such as students' motivational effects (Schwabe & Goth, 2005). Since designing a quality BSG may not be easy and cost-effective, Amory (2007) proposed a theoretical framework, the Goal Object Model (GOM) II, with comprehensive perspectives of game, visualization, elements, problems, and social spaces for educational game development, which can also serve as a mechanism to evaluate the use of computer games in the classroom. In contrast, Prensky (2008) and Lim (2008) summarized an alternative approach of how student users can act as designers to develop useful games to support learning.

In theory, as an educational technology, a BSG must attain certain learning values, provided that its applicable scope is identified. Evident examples range from a general learning platform for facilitating e-learning (Tao, 2008) to a student response system for increasing classroom interactions (Kay & LeSage, 2009), or to speech-to-text recognition (STR) technology for assisting non-native speakers and learners with hearing impairment and learning difficulties (Wald, 2004). Despite the potential benefits of educational technologies, issues on its adoption among teachers and students hinder its spread in actual practice. As implied in GOM II by Amory (2007), the root causes may be that BSGs are extremely expensive and time-consuming to develop or low cost-effectiveness for highly customized needs, which transmit to adoption issues when they are finally available in the market. Among many studies of users' attitude toward BSG, only one study focuses on students' continuance usage in higher education (Tao, Cheng, & Sun, 2009). However, it merely presents students' perceptions on the continued use of BSGs without considering teachers' confirmation.

The importance of the teacher-student dynamic regarding the adoption of educational technology is evident in the literature. For instance, e-learning strategies suggested in a teacher study (Tao & Yeh, 2008) were further refined when the comparative study on students was supplemented (Tao, 2008). The study showed that stakeholder perceptions are important in presenting the overall perspective of issues concerning common interests in the teacher-student dynamic. Ideas surrounding digital natives and digital immigrants (Prensky, 2001) may represent the current profiles of students and teachers regarding the adoption of any educational technology. The digital disconnect shows the gap between Internet-savvy students and their teachers (Levin & Arafeh, 2002) such that "the gap between students' perception of technology and that of the faculty continues to widen" (The New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 2008). This realization implies that students and teachers may have the same preferences for learning a new technology, but the context in which these preferences play out may vary.

Although Taiwan initiated BSGs as early as 1973 (Kung-Hwa Management Foundation, 2010), only in recent years have higher education institutes adopted BSGs for classroom activities and conducted national competitions in this area. The study on students' continued use of BSGs in Taiwan's higher education institutes (Tao et al. …