Computer-based simulation games are increasingly being used in training, but how does their effectiveness compare to that of traditional training methods? And what are the most important features of simulation games? Sitzmann (2011) sought to answer these questions in her recent meta-analysis (or statistical combination of many past studies).
THE RESEARCH STUDY
Sitzmann found that, relative to a comparison group (which varied across studies), trainees who learned from a simulation game had higher levels of post-training self-efficacy, declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge, and retention of the training material. They also learned more when simulation games were entertaining and engaging, when there was unlimited access to the simulation games, and when the simulations were included along with other types of training.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although the development of computer-based simulation games can be expensive, it appears that they can be very effective. However, when either developing or deciding whether or not to implement a simulation game, certain characteristics must be considered. The game must be entertaining, engaging, and provided as a supplement to other types of training. Finally, trainees should be able to access the training program as many times as they would like. A training program using simulation games that does not include these characteristics may not be as effective as other training methods, and therefore it may not be worth the cost.
Sitzmann, T. (2011). A meta-analytic examination of the instructional effectiveness of computer-based simulation games. Personnel Psychology, 64, 489-528.
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