Active Learning Methods to Enhance Higher Education in Business
Authors: Ana María Vallina-Hernández, Hanns De La Fuente-Mella, Jose Barrera, Hugo Mansilla
Abstract: The environment of a knowledge society is dynamic, active, oriented towards innovation. Therefore, the development of skills for the 21st century, such as the fundamental ones, content, and professionals in the Business career, is becoming more critical. Furthermore, the active-cooperative methodologies take more prominence in developing an undergraduate career in business and economics, whose significant increases with the uncertainty, social, and environmental changes that the pandemic is causing.Business education always has the challenge to achieve that student comprehend business dynamics and have the notions of decision-making. Therefore, active learning methods have been used for a long time, especially the case-study method. This research aims to explore the effectiveness of simulation-role playing techniques versus more traditional methods such as lectures. This study analyzes the case of the Business Administration Career at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, whose program changed in 2009, including the new approach of design courses under the learning-by-doing philosophy, focusing, in particular, in the course Simulación Empresarial (Entrepreneurship simulation). Thus, researching the effectiveness of this type of experience in higher education is a real contribution to the development of knowledge to obtain a quality education.This subject uses active-cooperative learning methods through simulation and role-playing techniques. The students integrate teams that correspond to a firm in the industry. Each one has an executive occupation. The team has to present “yearly results” and stand up to the company board (the professors). Thus, role-playing, simulation, and TICs are essential parts of the course. This paper explores indicators and relationships that allow comparing alumni performance from both curriculums, the one more focused on traditional methods, called Control Group (CG – generations from 2001-2008)), and the ones identified as Experimental Group (EG – generations 2009-2016). Hence, it will provide a methodology to replicate in other Business Schools or other college careers. Previous research shows that the role-playing methodology allows a more significant commitment of the students with the object of study and the development of the activities of the specialty. In this sense, a role-playing methodology complemented with simulation and TICs involves active-cooperative learning, which integrates all the knowledge and behavior obtained during the career. Furthermore, it implies that the student, in order to be able to deliver appropriate arguments that support his/her decisions as a manager. The methodology applied is quantitative research, using regression analysis. Tree-decision analysis complemented these results. Considering that it is an exploratory analysis, it is necessary to choose an indicator for performance. The dependent variable chosen is the Comprehensive Exam grade; this exam assesses all the career subjects in an integrated manner. The independent variables are related to entry conditions, such as a grade average in secondary education, university selection standardized test score, gender. In addition, grades obtained on the different lines of the study plan were calculated, such as finance, marketing, economics, math -statistics, and others. Finally, as a dichotomic variable, whether the student took the course Entrepreneurship Simulation or not, to identify whether he/she belongs to the control or the experimental group. Results obtained from the regression model are consistent with the ones attained using the tree-decision model. The control and experimental groups are very similar, so the different programs do not depend on their characteristics. The Comprehensive Exam grade depends directly, for both groups, from their performance in Economics and Marketing and negatively to whether they took Entrepreneurship Simulation, considering 95% confidence interval. The entry variables or gender makes no difference in the grade obtained in that examination. The univariate analysis outcome determines that the Comprehensive Exam and Entrepreneurship Simulation grades are not related.Consequently, further research is needed to measure the effectiveness of the subject under study. The exam grade may be significantly lower in younger generations because: it is more consistent with traditional methods; after approving Entrepreneurship Simulation, the students may feel that it is just a mere requirement; they specialize more in the course that they used to do in the previous plan; and, the course may develop more soft competencies that the exam does not measure.
Keywords: Business Education Role Playing Learning Experiences Business skills development
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