SMITHFIELD, RI – Dedicated to innovation in teaching and learning, Trustee Professor of Management Michael A. Roberto is continually researching and developing effective practices for engaging students to help them reach their fullest potential. He is a believer in the power of immersive, experiential learning and applies a variety of methods in his teaching, including business simulations. He says they provide an “action-oriented perspective where students are actually doing things, making decisions, having to reflect on those actions and trying to understand what the lessons learned are.”
Watch this video of Professor Roberto on simulations and active learning.
Roberto has created three widely acclaimed business simulations to help students learn how to problem solve and make decisions in real-world situations. Two of his creations, the Everest and Team Leadership simulation and New Venture Simulation: The Food Truck Challenge, were recognized in Harvard Business Publishing’s recent feature, “6 Favorite Business Simulations to Teach—and Why.”
“A well-designed, rightly timed simulation can turn any class into an experience…They create shortcuts to mastery."
The award-winning Everest and Team Leadership simulation, developed by Roberto and co-author Harvard Business School Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management Amy Edmonson, “uses the dramatic context of a Mount Everest expedition to reinforce student learning in group dynamics and leadership.” This simulation was recognized as the best-selling simulation ever developed and distributed by Harvard Business School as the school celebrates 100 years of the case method.
“A well-designed, rightly timed simulation can turn any class into an experience…They create shortcuts to mastery,” said Anna Tavis, Ph.D., of New York University who chose the Everest simulation as her favorite. “This simulation works in a variety of courses addressing leadership, teams, and organizations. It is versatile enough to work from undergraduate to executive education levels.”
Debuting five years ago, Roberto’s New Venture Simulation: The Food Truck Challenge has quickly gained in popularity and was Georgetown University Professor Stuart Levy’s top selection. “The test-and-learn approach encouraged in the Food Truck Challenge leads to an “aha moment” for many of my students, who have been academically trained to conduct copious research before making decisions,” said Levy.
In 2014, Roberto created the Organizational Behavior Simulation: Judgment in a Crisis, which gives students the opportunity to play the role of a product manager at a medical device manufacturer. “It focuses on teaching about cognitive biases,” he said noting that Harvard produced a great video for instructors who use that simulation, which was filmed at Bryant University.
“It didn’t take me long as a young teacher to learn that I didn’t want to put students in a listen-only mode in my classroom,” Roberto wrote in a recent article for Chief Learning Officer. “When students were actively engaged in discussion and working through problems, as with the case method at Harvard Business School, they were more motivated and invested in learning.”
“Simulations go a step beyond to create a more active learning experience where students can react to the minute-by-minute feedback an executive receives when making a decision."
“Simulations go a step beyond to create a more active learning experience where students can react to the minute-by-minute feedback an executive receives when making a decision,” said Roberto. Combined with other teaching methods – readings, lectures, case studies, and discussions – simulations reinforce the lessons learned and make for a rich and rewarding educational experience that prepares students for the complex, real-world challenges they will face as leaders, no matter what path they choose.