Computer-Based Simulation Games in Public Administration Education
- Publisher: Sciendo
NISPAcee Journal of Public Administration and Policy
(issn: 1337-9038, eissn: 1338-4309)
active learning | Political institutions and public administration (General) | public administration | computer-based simulation games | students of Master of Public Administration programmes | municipal finance | JF20-2112
Computer simulation, an active learning technique, is now one of the advanced pedagogical technologies. Th e use of simulation games in the educational process allows students to gain a firsthand understanding of the processes of real life. Public- administration, public-policy and political-science courses increasingly adopt simulation games in universities worldwide. Besides person-to-person simulation games, there are computer-based simulations in public-administration education. Currently in Russia the use of computer-based simulation games in Master of Public Administration (MPA) curricula is quite limited. Th is paper focuses on computer- based simulation games for students of MPA programmes. Our aim was to analyze outcomes of implementing such games in MPA curricula. We have done so by (1) developing three computer-based simulation games about allocating public finances, (2) testing the games in the learning process, and (3) conducting a posttest examination to evaluate the effect of simulation games on students’ knowledge of municipal finances. Th is study was conducted in the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and in the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) during the period of September to December 2015, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Two groups of students were randomly selected in each university and then randomly allocated either to the experimental or the control group. In control groups (n=12 in HSE, n=13 in RANEPA) students had traditional lectures. In experimental groups (n=12 in HSE, n=13 in RANEPA) students played three simulation games apart from traditional lectures. Th is exploratory research shows that the use of computer-based simulation games in MPA curricula can improve students’ outcomes by 38 %. In general, the experimental groups had better performances on the post-test examination (Figure 2). Students in the HSE experimental group had 27.5 % better scores than students in the HSE control group. Students of the RANEPA experimental group had 38.0 % better scores than students in the RANEPA control group. Research indicates that lecture-based courses are less effective than courses with more interactive approaches. Therefore, our study highlights the need to implement computer-based simulation games in MPA programmes in Russian universities. Computer-based simulation games provide students with practical skills for their future careers.