The future of project management simulation exercises


Project management
Simulation exercises
Transferable skills

How to Cite

Pontin, D., & Dacre, N. (2024). The future of project management simulation exercises . UK and Ireland Engineering Education Research Network Conference Proceedings 2023.


In recent times project management has become among the most popular post graduate courses at UK Universities particularly for international students. Students consider the skill set useful for employability and transferable for a wide range of future avenues helpful in an uncertain world. However, many start this course with no workplace experience and many of the project management concepts are difficult to grasp or cannot be fully tested except within a realistic project situation. Hence project management simulations or games have become increasingly popular to help resolve this issue.

This research study focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of a project management simulation exercise used by a leading UK University within their project management teaching programme at post-graduate level. A review of the literature included recent studies of simulation, the development of project management education thinking, experiential learning theory and the skill set required from modern project managers from the perspective of professional bodies, industry groups and academics. This produced a list of 17 skills or competences or knowledge areas including both hard skills such as schedule management and risk management and soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and innovation.

Students from the 2021-22 academic year produced quantitative data via a survey relating to their self-perception of their skill level before and after the simulation. Tutors were interviewed to obtain a deeper insight into the mechanisms of learning, the conditions required and their thoughts on future simulation design development. This qualitative data was used to develop a conceptual model for future project management simulation design.

The results show that from the student perspective this learning approach is highly effective with in almost all cases the level of competence started at below average and ended at above average after the simulation. Students consider this approach memorable and enjoyable, were fully engaged and would recommend to their peers. The problem of self-assessment was discussed but a link between student confidence and employability proposed. The conceptual model developed from the qualitative data includes not only simulation design but also game management and tutor skill development. Collaboration between industry partners, game developers and educationalists is proposed to develop the next generation of project management simulation exercises.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2024 David Pontin, Nicholas Dacre


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