The FHDW offers high school students the opportunity to test their economic knowledge with the help of a management simulation and since 2007, Andreas Jäsche has been conducting simulation-based seminars with TOPSIM at various schools. In this article, he shows how these seminars are organized and what opportunities they offer for all parties involved.
The FHDW combines not only theory and practice, but also the interests of the university and companies through dual and part-time study programs. In addition, the university offers a wide range of services for students in order to provide them with the best possible information and prepare them for their education and professional carreer. A part of this is the opportunity to gain first practical experience in a TOPSIM – business simulation.
The participants, who are usually about to graduate from high school (11th/12th grade), compete in the business simulation against fictional companies of their classmates. Previous economic experience is not necessarily required. The business simulation is suitable for students and classes from all areas. This class is sometimes followed by inter-school business simulation competitions in which the winning teams from different schools compete against each other.
How are business simulation seminars conducted at schools?
By agreement with the school, the business simulation can be carried out on a full day or on two afternoons on the premises of the school or the FHDW. FHDW lecturer Andreas Jäsche guides the students through the business simulation. With a maximum of 5 teams á 5 players each, depending on time and interest, 3 to 4 periods of the offline business simulation TOPSIM – Basic (predecessor of TOPSIM – easyManagement) are played.
The seminar starts with a short introduction and a presentation of the most important economic terms. Afterwards, the participants start directly with the decision-making process for the first period. The seminar instructor supports the groups and answers their questions, after each period Andreas Jäsche evaluates the results in the plenum. In this, the facts about the previous periods are discussed and the lecturer gives short input on topics such as the marketing mix, the P&L, the balance sheet or the equity ratio. The participants then go back to their teams to make the next decisions and at this point receive more detailed explanations about the results of their period. This process continues until all periods are played. At the end of this process, a comprehensive feedback session follows.
To support the learning effect of the business simulation, the seminar is complemented by short theoretical inputs. Small additional tasks for the students, such as the development of company names and logos, as well as short presentations are also used.
What are the advantages of using business simulations with school students?
Both partner companies and the students themselves benefit from the experiences in the business simulation. For the students it is a preparation for studies and profession or training. They can test their skills and see which areas they are interested in or not. In addition, the business simulation helps students to make well-founded decisions for their future. This also means that universities and companies get students who know what to expect and they can therefore reduce dropout rates. The acquired basic knowledge can then be reactivated during studies and in everyday working life. Those participants who decide to study at the FHDW afterwards, are also confronted with the method of business simulations and play the more complex business game TOPSIM – General Management during their studies.
The students’ feedback on the business simulation is very positive. The change of topic and roles is welcomed by the students and even quiet students often take the initiative. In addition to technical insights, acquired soft skills such as team building are also very helpful for the future career.
“The business simulation not only offered us new challenges, but also helped us with our career orientation. At the end of the business simulation, each participant was able to judge whether they enjoyed these tasks and whether they would also like to obtain further information about the business sector in their professional future”.Student‘s feedback
We thank Andreas Jäsche for his concept of using TOPSIM – Basic in schools and are looking forward to new best practices from other seminars!