New approaches to business and management student experiential development for the workplace

This workshop was funded as part of one of HEA Social Science’s strategic priorities 2013 – 14 ‘Active and experiential learning in the Social Sciences’. 

This blog post was compiled by IIias Basioudis, Aston University ( ) . 


The Centre of Higher Education in Learning & Management of Aston Business School, Aston University advances the understanding, impact and practice of the pedagogy of business and management in higher education, via a programme of rigorous, reflective practice and research. The event, an all-day workshop on simulation and gaming as a teaching tool in the Social Sciences. In addition, the workshop has also debated the topical issue of student placements. It offered academics an opportunity to come together to discuss and explore how to make the most effective use of role-play simulations, boardgames and virtual simulations as educational tools, as well as how to make optimum use of industry placements, so as to maximise students’ acquisition of skills and characteristics and to help prepare students to effectively compete in the global economy. 


In order to improve the learning experience and employability of students, a number of initiatives are offered within HEIs. Some of these initiatives include simulations and games, industry placements or other shorter forms of placements such as internships and vacation work opportunities, among others. It is well recognised in the literature that HEIs need to tackle successfully the increased significance of graduate employability prospects and to embed effectively real-world learning experiences into all curricula. Simulations and gaming offer an experiential simulated real-world student learning opportunity in a risk free environment. Such experiential learning is particularly relevant in business subjects where there is a need to employ pedagogy that allows students to explore the theory to application interface, develop theoretical insights and actively engage in reflection. Simulations and gaming can support problem-based learning, develop communication, decision making and management skills, and also develop digital literacy.


Blog post from Bruce Scharlau 'Lego Serious Play: the literature' can be accessed via this link.

Industry placements and internships, on the other hand, provide a more on-hand experience to students whilst away from the HEI and are one clear route through which students gain an applied experience of the world of work. Placements offer something attractive to students, employers and the university, indicating a commitment to the benefits of work-based learning and experience.

Such initiatives provide benefits for teaching, learning, assessment and employability, and the proposed workshop shared the experiences of leading academics on those fields, and provided a lively discussion on the most effective way that such initiatives can be employed to enhance the student learning experience and prepare students to enter the job market and succeed in their first jobs. 


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