Business simulation games: impact on SOLO taxonomy learning outcomes, learning performance and teamwork competency

Andromachi Boikou, Anastasios A. Economides, Stavros A. Nikou 

pp. 161 - 175, download 






Despite the increasing use of simulation games in business education, only few studies have explored the cognitive processes that learners employ while playing the game, with quite controversial results about the students’ learning outcomes. The current study analyses the impact of a Business Simulation Game (BSG) on the cognitive processes related to the “Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome” (SOLO) taxonomy. Moreover, overall learning performance and perceived teamwork competency have been investigated. A quasi-experimental pre and post-test design was applied. Eighty (80) university students played a marketing simulation game to practise a business marketing plan. The results showed a significant improvement in the unistructural and extended abstract levels of the taxonomy after playing the game. There was no significant difference in the multi-structural level while the effect on the relational level was negative. Also, a strong, positive correlation between perceived teamwork competency and learning performance was found. Implications for instructional designers and educators are discussed.


Keywords: Business Simulation Games, Game Based Learning, Marketing Simulation Game, SOLO taxonomy, Team Competency.



1. Aldrich, C.: Learning online with games, simulations and virtual worlds. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons (2009) 

2. Kriz, W. C.: Types of gaming simulation applications. Simulation & Gaming, 48(1), pp. 3-7 (2017) 

3. Eckardt, G., Selen, W., & Wynder, M.: Recognising the effects of costing assumptions in educational business simulation games. e-Journal of Business Education & Scholarship of Teaching, 9(1), pp. 43-60 (2015) 

4. Crovato, S., Pinto, A., Giardullo, P., & Mascarello, L.: Food safety and young consumers: Testing a serious game as a risk communication tool. Food Control, 62, pp. 134-141 (2016) 

5. Anderson, P. H., & Lawton, L.: Business simulations and cognitive learning: Developments, desires, and future directions. Simulation & Gaming, 40(2), pp. 193-216 (2009) 

6. Wellington, W. J., Hutchinson, D. B., & Faria, A. J.: Measuring the impact of a marketing simulation game: experience on perceived indecisiveness. Simulation & Gaming, 1, pp. 56-80 (2016) 

7. Faria, A. J., & Wellington, W. J.: A survey of simulation game users, former-users, and never-users. Simulation & Gaming, 35(2), pp. 178-207 (2004) 

8. Ben-Zvi, T.: The efficacy of business simulation games in creating decision support systems: An experimental investigation. Decision Support Systems, 49(1), pp. 61-69. (2010) 

9. Scullion, J., Livingstone, D., & Stansfield, M.: Collaboration through simulation: Pilot implementation of an online 3D environment. Simulation & Gaming, 45(3), pp. 394-409 (2014) 

10. Harviainen, J. T.: Ritualistic games, boundary control, and information uncertainty. Simulation & Gaming, 43(4), pp. 506-527 (2012) 

11. Bachen, C. M., Hernández-Ramos, P. F., & Raphael, C.: Simulating REAL LIVES: Promoting global empathy and interest in learning through simulation games. Simulation & Gaming, 43(4), pp. 437-460 (2012) 

12. Silva, R., Rodrigues, R., & Leal, C.: Gamification in management education-A literature mapping. Education and Information Technologies, 25(3), 1803-1835. (2020) 

13. Chernikova, O., Heitzmann, N., Stadler, M., Holzberger, D., Seidel, T., & Fischer, F.: Simulation-Based Learning in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 1-43 (2020) 

14. Silva, R. J. R. D., Rodrigues, R. G., & Leal, C. T. P.: Gamification in management education: A systematic literature review. BAR-Brazilian Administration Review, 16 (2019) 

15. Boyle, E. A., Hainey, T., Connolly, T., Gray, G., Earp, J., Ott, M., . . . Pereira, J.: An update to the systematic literature review of empirical evidence of the impacts and outcomes of computer games. Computers & Education, 94, pp. 178-192 (2016) 

16. Walkowiak, S., Foulsham, T., & Eardley, A. F.: Individual differences and personality correlates of navigational performance in the virtual route learning task. Computers in Human Behavior, pp. 402-410 (2015) 

17. Washbush, J., & Gosen, J.: An exploration of game-derived learning in total enterprise simulations. Simulation & Gaming, 32(3), pp. 281-296 (2001) 

18. Chen, C. H., Liu, G. Z., & Hwang, G. J.: Interaction between gaming and multistage guiding strategies on students' field trip mobile learning performance and motivation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(6), pp. 1032-1050 (2015) 

19. Huang, Y. M., Silitonga, L. M., & Wu, T. T.: Applying a business simulation game in a flipped classroom to enhance engagement, learning achievement, and higher-order thinking skills. Computers & Education, 183, 104494 (2022) 

20. Lämsä, J., Hämäläinen, R., Aro, M., Koskimaa, R., & Äyrämö, S.‐M.: Games for enhancing basic reading and maths skills: A systematic review of educational game design in supporting learning by people with learning disabilities. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(4), pp. 596-607 (2018) 

21. Cameron, B., & Dwyer, F.: The effect of online gaming, cognition and feedback type in facilitating delayed achievement of different learning objectives. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 16(3), pp. 243-258 (2005) 

22. O'Neil, H., Wainess, R., & Baker, E.: Classification of learning outcomes: Evidence from the computer games literature. The Curriculum Journal, 16(4), pp. 455-474 (2006) 

23. Hays, R. T.: The effectiveness of Instructional games: a literature review and discussion. Orlando: Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (2005) 

24. Vogel, J. J., Vogel, D. S., Cannon-Bowers, J., Bowers, C. A., Muse, K., & Wright, M.: Computer gaming and interactive simulations for learning: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 34(3), pp. 229-243 (2006) 

25. Dankbaar, M. E., Alsma, J., Jansen, E. E., van Merrienboer, J. J., van Saase, J. L., & Schuit, S. C.: An experimental study on the effects of a simulation game on students' clinical cognitive skills and motivation. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract, 21(3), pp. 505-521 (2015) 

26. Wideman, H. H., Owston, R. D., Brown, C., Kushniruk, A., Ho, F., & Pitts, K. C.: Unpacking the potential of educational gaming: A new tool for gaming research. Simulation & Gaming, 38(1), pp. 10-30 (2007) 

27. Butler, J. O.: Mindcrafting: The semantic characteristics of spontaneous names generated as an aid to cognitive mapping and navigation of simulated environments. Simulation & Gaming, 48(5), pp. 588-602 (2017) 

28. Alexander, P., & Murphy, P.: Nurturing the seeds of transfer: A domain-specific perspective. International Journal of Educational Research, 31 (7), pp. 561-576 (1999) 

29. Gatti, L., Ulrich, M., & Seele, P.: Education for sustainable development through business simulation games: An exploratory study of sustainability gamification and its effects on students' learning outcomes. Journal of cleaner production, 207, 667-678 (2019) 

30. Chan, C.C., Tsui, M.S., Chan M.Y.C., & Hong, J.H.: Applying the Structure of the Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) Taxonomy on Student's Learning Outcomes: An empirical study, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 27:6, 511-527 (2002) 

31. Buchanan, L., Wolanczyk, F. & Zinghini, F.: Blending Bloom's taxonomy and serious game design, Proceedings of the International Conference on Security and Management, Vol.11, CSREA Press, Las Vegas, pp. 518-521 (2011) 

32. Bloom, B.: Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: the Classification of Educational Goals. New York: McKay (1956) 

33. Miller, C. Nentl, N. & Zietlow, R.: About Simulations and Bloom's Learning Taxonomy. Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning, vol 37, pp 161-171 (2010) 

34. Biggs, J. & Collins, K.F.: Evaluating the Quality of Learning: The SOLO Taxonomy (Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome). Academic Press Inc., London (2014) 

35. Hattie, J., & Nola, P.: The SOLO Model: Addressing Fundamental Measurement Issues. In B. Dart, & G. Boulton-Lewis, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Australian Council for Educational Research, Victoria (1998) 

36. Biggs, J.: Teaching for quality learning at university. Maidenhead: Open University Press (2003) 

37. Biggs, J., & Tang, C.: Teaching for quality learning at university. Maidenhead: Open University Press (2007) 

38. Salas, E., Burke, C. S., Fowlkes, J. E., & Priest, H. A.: On measuring teamwork skills. In M. Herson & J. C. Thomas (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of psychological assessment (Vol. 4, pp. 427-442) New York, NY: Wiley (2004) 

39. Awuor, N.O., Weng, C., Piedad, E. Jr., & Roel Militar, R.: Teamwork competency and satisfaction in online group project-based engineering course: The cross-level moderating effect of collective efficacy and flipped instruction, Computers & Education, Volume 176, 104357 (2022) 

40. EHEA: Retrieved from European Higher Education Area and Bologna Process: (2018) 

41. Lower, L. M., Newman, T. J., & Anderson-Butcher, D.: Validity and reliability of the Teamwork Scale for Youth. Research on Social Work Practice, 27(6), pp. 716-725 (2015) 

42. Brazhkin, V., & Zimmerman, H.: Students' perceptions of learning in an online multiround business simulation game: What can we learn from them?. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 17(4), 363-386 (2019) 

43. Mikropoulos, T.A., & Antonis Natsis, A.: Educational virtual environments: A ten-year review of empirical research (1999-2009), Computers & Education, Volume 56, Issue 3, Pages 769-780 (2011) 

44. Noguera, I., Guerrero-Roldan, A.-E., & Maso, R.: Collaborative agile learning in online environments: Strategies for improving team regulation and project management. Computers & Education, 116, pp. 110-129 (2017) 

45. Mayer, I.: Assessment of teams in a digital game environment. Simulation & Gaming, 49(6), pp. 602-619 (2018) 

46. McGraw Hill Education: Practice Marketing. Retrieved from (2017) 

47. Armstrong, G., & Kotler, P.: Marketing: An Introduction. Pearson (2014) 

48. Anderson-Butcher, D., Wade-Mdivanian, R., Paluta, L., Lower, L., Amorose, A., & Davis, J.: OSULiFE sports 2013 annual report. Columbus, OH: College of SocialWork, The Ohio State University (2014) 

49. Cohen, J.: Statistical Power Analysis for the behavioral sciences. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (2013) 

50. Clark A.: The Complete Guide to Simulations & Serious Games. Pfeiffer (2009). 

51. Goi, C.-L.: The use of business simulation games in teaching and learning, Journal of Education for Business, 94:5, 342-349 (2019) 

52. Nikou, S. A., & Economides, A. A.: The impact of paper-based, computer-based and mobile-based self-assessment on students' science motivation and achievement. Computers in Human Behavior, 55(Part B), pp. 1241-1248 (2016) 

53. Lamb, R., Annetta, L., Vallett, D., Firestone, J., Schmitter-Edgecombe, M., & Walker, H.: Psychosocial factors impacting STEM career selection. The Journal of Educational Research, 111(4), pp. 446-458 (2017) 

54. Taillandier, F., & Adam, C.: Games ready to use: A serious game for teaching natural risk management. Simulation & Gaming, 49(4), pp. 441-470 (2018) 

55. Bolívar-Ramos, M., & Martínez-Salgueiro, A.: Team-based learning in business courses: The application of case studies and simulation games. REIRE Revista d'Innovació i Recerca en Educació, 11(2), pp. 96-109 (2018) 

56. Chakraborti, C., Boonyasai, R. T., Wright, S. M., & Kern, D. E.: A systematic review of teamwork training interventions in medical student and resident education. JGIM, Society of General Internal Medicine, 23(6), pp. 846-853 (2008) 

57. Sung, H.Y. & Gwo-Jen, Huang, G.-J.: Facilitating effective digital game-based learning behaviors and learning performances of students based on a collaborative knowledge construction strategy. Interactive Learning Environments, 26(1), pp. 118-134 (2018) 

58. Biggs, J.: Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. High Educ 32, 347-364. (1996) 

59. Lin, H.H., Yen, W.C., & Wang, Y.-S.: Investigating the effect of learning method and motivation on learning performance in a business simulation system context: An experimental study, Computers & Education, Volume 127, Pages 30-40 (2018)



back to Table of Contents