Demonstrating The Elusive Outcomes of Decision-making, Information-seeking, and Adaptability: A Market Simulation Game for Engineering Students

John R. Morelock, Alejandro Salado, Arash Baghaei Lakeh, Trevor K. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In undergraduate engineering education, students are often overexposed to problem-solving methods that are unrepresentative of how engineers solve problems in practice. For decision-making problems, in particular, students are commonly taught to compare alternative solutions using known and provided information. However, many real-world decision-making problems require a broader range of problem-solving strategies, including information seeking, extrapolation of a decision’s consequences, and compromise between parties with competing objectives. To advance engineering educators’ capacity to address this need, we developed a simulation game activity designed to offer industrial engineering seniors experience in solving realistic decision-making problems. The simulation game involved students working in teams that role-played as different types of companies in a global smartphone market, where teams needed to negotiate with one another to establish profitable contracts within the game’s ruleset. Using a qualitative assessment instrument we developed through prior research, we evaluated how well success in the game aligned with learning outcome achievement in constrained decisionmaking, information-seeking, and adaptability. Though the game has opportunities for improvement, student success in the game was aligned with excellence in constrained decision-making, and occasionally aligned with excellence in adaptability, and effort to seek information that could guide team decisions. Additionally, student actions during the game have potential to initiate student discourse on the role of engineering ethics in managerial decision-making, which may be of interest to many engineering programs. Finally, we comment on how our new assessment instrument affected student learning and related implications for assessment in engineering education more broadly. Our market simulation game was an effective instructional tool to allow students to demonstrate our intended learning outcomes, and other instructors with similar intended outcomes may find it a valuable tool for their courses as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalAdvances in Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Games
  • Outcomes-based assessment
  • Problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Demonstrating The Elusive Outcomes of Decision-making, Information-seeking, and Adaptability: A Market Simulation Game for Engineering Students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this