The Contribution of Serious Games for the Success of Students in Entrepreneurship

The Contribution of Serious Games for the Success of Students in Entrepreneurship

Fernando Almeida (Polytechnic Institute of Gaya, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1029-2.ch007

Abstract

The adoption of serious games as a complement to traditional classroom training is still an emerging theme, but it offers relevant potentialities for both students and teachers. This study describes the integration process of serious games in an entrepreneurship course over five years (2014-2018). In the first three years, the ENTRExplorer was adopted, while in the last two years the FLIGBY was used. The experience of using entrepreneurship serious games is analyzed according to multiple perspectives, such as complexity, generation of more entrepreneurial or group working skills, engagement, interactivity, learning outcomes, or even the impact on the intention to establish a new venture. The findings allowed a comparative analysis of the two games, indicating significant differences in some of those dimensions. Nevertheless, the learning outcomes provided by each game were considered relevant by the students, showing that both games can be useful in the process of learning and acquiring entrepreneurship competencies.
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Introduction

Technological advances have transformed and contributed to the development of society and improved service provision in various areas. In the educational context, new tools and systems have been used to improve educational processes and offer students realistic and interactive environments. The educational approach based on serious games has stood out for complementing playful aspects and pedagogical content. According to Noemi & Máximo (2014) and Cheng et al. (2015), this approach has promoted the students' learning process.

Several authors like Griffiths et al. (2013) and Fritsch & Wyrwich (2017) advocate that entrepreneurship is an activity with a strong economic and social impact. In entrepreneurship, business ideas can come from different areas of knowledge that must be converted into action. Currently, the mission of universities includes the existence of a third mission called university entrepreneurship, as a complement to traditional teaching and research activities. Therefore, the mission of universities must also include the process of technology transfer to the productive sector and be a driving force for regional development. Thus, the entrepreneurial university must be able to transform knowledge into economic activity.

The development of entrepreneurial skills is carried out in very different ways by higher education institutions. Entrepreneurship is not recognized as a curriculum subject by all higher institutions. Some institutions offer specific entrepreneurship subjects that are part of each course, others that offer entrepreneurship courses as isolated courses, and other institutions that above all promote the creation of organizational culture and policy that fosters risk and encourages entrepreneurship initiatives.

Irrespective of how entrepreneurship teaching is carried out by universities, serious games have the potential to develop key competencies among students. Although there is no correlation between the propensity for entrepreneurship and the use of serious games, several authors show benefits from the use of games applied to entrepreneurship (Bellotti et al., 2014; Fox et al., 2018). Briefly, the highlighted benefits include the development of organizational skills, communication skills, and decision-making ability (Neck & Greene, 2011). Although these benefits are unequivocally important, there are also challenges in the integration of entrepreneurship serious games, such as compatibility with the pedagogical contents, difficulty levels not adjusted for all students and the reduced number of serious games solutions available in the market.

This study performs a longitudinal study of the process of integration of serious games in an entrepreneurship course that is attended by students from management and computer science courses in a higher education institution. In a first phase, from 2014 to 2016, ENTREXplorer was adopted and developed in the context of a European project involving higher education institutions and European companies. This platform is characterized by the presentation of an open-access Web platform that allows students to gradually follow the most important programmatic contents in the area of entrepreneurship, such as the creation of a business plan, marketing activities or financial indicators of a new business project. In a second phase, from 2017 to 2018, FLIGBY was adopted, which is a commercial solution that aims to develop management and leadership skills among students. This study also seeks to analyze the contribution of these two initiatives to the success of entrepreneurial students, identifying their benefits, but also the challenges posed to their integration in the context of a higher education institution.

This manuscript is organized as follows: Initially, a contextualization of the role of serious games in education is performed with particular emphasis on its relevance to the teaching of entrepreneurship. Also, in this section, the two adopted games (i.e., ENTRExplorer and FLIGBY) in our study are presented. The focus of this study and associated methods is also presented and described. After that, the main solutions and recommendations in the use of both games for the teaching of entrepreneurship are presented. Also, in this phase, a comparative analysis of the two games according to multiple dimensions was included. Finally, some pertinent emerging research topics in this theme are presented, and the main results of this study are stated.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flow Theory: Introduced by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the flow theory is a state of mind attained when one is fully engaged in an activity.

Natural Processing Language (NPL): A sub-field of Artificial Intelligence that is focused on enabling computers to understand and process natural language.

Serious Game: Software or hardware developed through the principles of interactive game design, with the aim of transmitting educational or training content to the user.

Coaching: Personal training activity in which a coach helps his client developing some area of his life.

Gamification: Adopts game paradigm and resources in other contexts, such as education.

SWOT Analysis: Acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Tool used for scenario analysis, being used as a basis for management and strategic planning.

PEST Analysis: Acronym for political, economic, social, and technological. It offers a framework of macro-environmental factors used as a tool in the strategic management of companies.

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