Business Simulations and Prior Learning

Not a simple formula but a function of issues and needs.











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As business simulations provide higher order learning, prior learning is vital to learning and this page explores the overlaps between Prior Learning, Learning Needs and the Simulation

Diagram of simulation model and development needs sets.

  1. Learners' Prior Learning (P1 + P2 + P3 + P4) - dashed circle.
  2. Prior Learning required by the simulation (P3 + P4 + P5 + P6) - double circle
  3. P4 is the Prior Learning that is relevant to Learning Needs and the Simulation
  4. P5 is missing Prior Learning needed by the Simulation that is relevant to Learning Needs.
  5. P6 is missing Prior Learning needed by the Simulation that is irrelevant to Learning Needs

For learning to occur the missing prior learning (P5 + P6) must be provided and the acquisition of this will add to the simulation's duration and/or cause disaffection.

Although acquiring the missing prior learning necessary for and relevant to learning needs (P5) is of use ideally it would be provided before using the business simulation. (Often in the past, I ran a business simulation at the end of their course to refresh, reinforce and integrate learning and end on a highlight. This also acted as a check on the quality of the earlier course sessions. In particular, on occasion, learners had not learnt things that from earlier sessions that were necessary to the simulation.

But the acquisition of the irrelevant missing prior learning needed by the simulation (P6) is a complete waste. This waste commonly occurs when the simulation design purpose is to replicate reality rather than address specific learning needs. So, I suggest that you beware simulations that are promoted as the "world's most real simulation"!

How can you minimise the waste?

1. Management Development Needs

All of our simulations are designed to meet specific management development needs. We do not design simulations where the focus is merely replicating the real world. Rather, we look in detail at development needs in terms of business knowledge exploration, business issues, management skills practice, the context and enhancement of learning, motivation and change and assessment.

2. Wide Range

Instead of providing a single or a few simulations, our range of some three dozen simulations address a very wide range of management development needs - from specialists and junior managers to senior management; from two hours duration to two days plus and exploring a wide range of business areas and issues.

3. Multiple Versions

Besides providing a wide range, many of these are available in several versions to ensure we focus even closer on development and client needs.

4. Coaching and Mentoring

The three previous topics (Management Development Needs, Wide Range and Multiple Versions) are concerned with minimising the need for irrelevant learning (P6) but here we are concerned with providing the prior learning relevant to learning needs (P5). This can be provided by the tutor as he or she visits with the learners or by a coach/mentor embedded in the team

5. Mix of Learners

Another way of providing the relevant prior learning is by providing a mix of team members so that their knowledge overlaps. This is illustrated in the diagram to the right where the knowledge of four learners (green, blue, yellow and pink circles) cover virtually all the prior knowledge need by the business simulation (double line circle). Also, this diagram illustrates that there is minimal prior learning that is relevant and needs to be provided and there is no prior learning that is irrelevant and needs to be provide. Appropriate team formation is explained here.

This shows how a range of learner knowledge and experience helps.

2010 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 23/11/14
Hall Marketing, Studio 11, Colman's Wharf, 45 Morris Road, London E14 6PA, ENGLAND
Phone +44 (0)20 7537 2982 E-mail