Brazilian students and working capital: An analysis of their decisions when using virtual market business games
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This study aims to demonstrate that data from business games can be an important resource for improving efficiency and effectiveness of learning. The proposal presented here was developed from preliminary studies of data from Virtual Market games that pointed the possibility of identifying gaps in learning by analyzing the decisions of students. This proposal helps students to refine their learning processes and equips tutors with strategies for teaching and student assessment. The proposal also complements the group discussion and/or debriefing, which are widely used to enhance learning mediated by games. However, from a management perspective the model has the potential to be erroneous and miss opportunities, which cannot be detected because of the dependence on the characteristics of the individual, such as ability to communicate and work together. To illustrate the proposed technique, data sets from two business games were analyzed with the focus on managing working capital and it was found that students had difficulties managing this task. Similar trends were observed in all categories of students in the study-undergraduate, postgraduate and specialization. This discovery led us to the analysis of data for decisions made in the performance of the games, and it was determined that indicators could be developed that were capable of indentifying inconsistencies in the decisions. It was decided to apply some basic concepts of the finance management, such as management of the operational and non-operational expenditures, as well as production management concepts, such as the use of the production capacity. By analyzing the data from the Virtual Market games using the indicator concept, it was possible to detect the lack of domain knowledge of the students. Therefore, these indicators can be used to analyze the decisions of the players and guide them during the game, increasing their effectiveness and efficiency. As these indicators were developed from specific content, they can also be used to develop teaching materials to support learning. Viewed in this light, the proposal adds new possibilities for using business games in learning. In addition to the intrinsic learning that is achieved through playing the games, they also assist in driving the learning process. This study considers the applications and the methodology used. © 2011 TEMPUS Publications.