Friday, January 9, 2015

Simulation-Games Versus Non-Simulation-Games: Which Takes the Prize for Effectively Training Project Managers?

Brian Salk, School of Human and Organizational Development

Organizations spend exorbitant amounts of money on projects in an effort to achieve their goals, but projects often deliver substandard performance related to performance measurements such as delivering the desired functionality on time and within the prescribed budget. Organizations often turn to project management training to improve performance. The use of games in training is well documented, though little research examines the effectiveness of games in training project management principles. This study involved the creation of two virtually identical Web-based tutorials that conveyed project management principles: one with simulation-game elements and the other without those elements. Though participants using the simulation-game version found the tutorial more fun, participants of both versions demonstrated comparable gains in pretest-to-posttest learning. Participants also rated both versions comparably in regards to whether the tutorial was engaging (kept their attention) and effective (helped them learn the principles of project management). Demographics of age and gender were also analyzed, with no statistically significant differences in pretest-to-posttest learning. Overall, comparable gains for both groups with no appreciable differences in age or gender suggest that games offer a viable learning alternative for project management students, particularly as participants rated the simulation-game version as more fun.

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