The Hotel management simulation/game: An Evaluation of game mechanics and learning outcomes

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Title: The Hotel management simulation/game: An Evaluation of game mechanics and learning outcomes
Author: Dominguez, Angel E.
Abstract: Hospitality education, as a vocationally oriented field of study, must provide the student not only with theoretical concepts, but also with a series of skills that the student will use in the work place. These skills include problem analysis and decision making, team building, and the relationship of the hotel business variables (Occupancy, Profits and Guest Satisfaction). Simulation gaming techniques are thought to be very effective methods to develop these skills. In simulations participants imitate actions required on the job and are actively involved in the processes of learning and skills acquisition. The Hotel Management Simulation/Game is a simulation technique that has been successfully used in hospitality education and training. However its instructions and procedures (mechanics) have been perceived as unfriendly by participants. It was believed that the degree of understanding of the game mechanics would affect the learning process and the achievement of the game's instructional goals. To solve this problem, several changes of the game's mechanics have been introduced by the game administrators at Rochester Institute of Technology. The objective of the present study is to answer the following question: Does the Hotel Management Game's mechanics affect its learning outcomes (such as problem solving and decision making, team building, and understanding of the relationship among occupancy, profits and guest satisfaction), and the general pleasantness of the experience? A true experimental research was conducted to give an answer to these questions. Two groups of hotel management students were exposed to two different versions (Treatment "A" and "B") of the Hotel Management/Simulation Game. Both treatments differed only in the game's mechanics. Instruments were applied to measure in each groups: 1) The understanding of the game mechanics (independent variable), 2) Participants' Perception of Skills Acquisition, 3) General pleasantness (fun) of the experience, 4) Teamwork, and 5) Willingness to give and receive feedback. Results of the T-tests show that there was not any significant difference at a: 0.05, in Participants' Perception of Skills Acquisition, Fun, Teamwork and Feedback, between the two treatment groups. However, statistically significant differences were found only in individual questions. They favored students' perception of a less structured version (the original version or treatment "A"). Pearson's Correlation Analysis show that there is no relationship between the perceived acquisition of the skills and the game mechanics, but it did find a strong positive correlation coefficient of 0.5004 between degree of understanding of the game's mechanics and the general pleasantness (fun) of the experience (p<0.01). Strong correlation coefficients were found also between Participant's Perception of Skills Acquisition and their Willingness to Give and Receive Feedback (0.3593, p<0.05) and between Teamwork abilities and Feedback (0.4380, p<0.05). Results also suggest that the Hotel Management Simulation/Game is an effective technique to provide the learner with relevant skills for the hotel business.
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Date: 1993

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