How Are Schools Using Experiential Learning?

Post by Capsim
May 7, 2018

Experiential learning, or learning through experience, is a hot topic in the education industry due to its effectiveness in preparing students for the challenges that come post-graduation. This instructional method allows students to develop the knowledge and skills that improve their marketability to hiring organizations. In addition, experiential learning also increases student engagement and commitment, thus resolving one of the current issues affecting education.

As previously discussed in A Guide to Effective Education Through Experiential Learning, seven principles must be present in an educational activity to make it experiential. These seven principles are the following:

  1. Moves from theory to application
  2. Provides relevant content
  3. Excludes excessive judgement
  4. Fosters professional development with actionable feedback
  5. Encourages a real-world perspective
  6. Nurtures more than just professional development
  7. Introduces students to areas outside their comfort zones

Incorporating these seven principles of experiential learning is not always straightforward. Let’s explore how some schools and educational programs are implementing experiential learning to drive student development and ensure success beyond the classroom. These experiential learning examples are discussed in recent Hanover Research and AACSB articles.

Examples of Experiential Learning Activities

Raw Cases – Yale University

While traditional case studies generally require students to read, summarize, and reflect on the information presented, raw cases asks students to find important information as they dig through extensive data and documents. This experiential learning activity develops students’ research ability, a valuable skill in today’s connected and digital age.

Student-Driven Learning – Boston University

Meaningful development requires students to take ownership of their own learning process. Student-driven learning accomplishes this by eliminating grades, instead focusing on overall progress. Boston University currently deploys a program that uses a pass/fail rationale and removes course syllabi. In this program, students complete three experiential learning projects while maintaining an educational relationship with an executive mentor. This mentorship introduces students to people who can share their experiences and offer advice for success in the corporate world.

International Growth Lab – Northwestern University

This program introduces students to some of the challenges that businesses face in the real world. Overseas partners of the university ask students to create solutions to some of the challenges being faced in their specific company and industry. “This kind of program exposes students to the breadth of skills needed in practice, providing a holistic experience in the field.” – Hanover Research

The Frontier Market Scouts Program – Middlebury Institute of International Studies

This program is a two-week certificate program that trains students on impact investment and social venture management. The program combines lectures, creative projects, and experiential learning through their relationship with social entrepreneurs and investors. Participants who complete the program have the opportunity to apply for competitive two to twelve-month fellowships around the world.

Burkenroad Reports – Tulane University

Tulane University created a course where students become equity research analysts covering small companies that are often overlooked by research firms. In this course, students are broken into teams of four to five students and are assigned a publicly traded company. The students are then required to create a three-statement financial model, mirroring the work expected of them in the corporate world.

The Baylor Angel Network – Baylor University

This program connects entrepreneurs with angel investors, or individuals who provide capital for start-ups in exchange for an ownership stake. Students selected for the program serve a one-year term as analysts during their senior year in which they carry out the day-to-day operations of the network. “These highly inspired and talented analysts receive a real-life education on the inner workings of angel investing.” – Elliot Davis, AACSB

These experiential learning activities all accomplish the essential goal of preparing students for success post-graduation. However, some are harder to implement than others and all of them require the commitment of valuable resources. There are alternative experiential learning solutions that ease implementation while still developing the skills and knowledge students need to succeed. One such alternative is business simulations.

Experiential Learning with Business Simulations

In addition to all the benefits provided by the experiential learning activities discussed above, business simulations are an easy and innovative method to close the knowing-doing gap and arm students with the skills sought by hiring organizations.

Let’s further discuss what makes business simulations an easy and innovative way to engage students and ensure their success beyond the classroom. The three benefits we will be discussing are the following:

  • Ease of implementation
  • Career Relevance
  • Flexibility

Ease of Implementation

Business simulations don’t require the creation of new programs or the complete overhaul of business curricula. Instead, simulations are designed to adapt to the developmental needs of students while tackling institutional and program learning goals through their seamless integration across current business courses. Put simply, implementing a business simulation is as simple as 1. Choose simulation → 2. Ask students to complete simulation → 3. Observe student development.

Career Relevance

The effectiveness of experiential learning is based on its effectiveness to arm students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the corporate world. Business simulations allow students to practice the skills and apply the knowledge that are most pertinent to their chosen careers. Also, business simulations increase business acumen and develop the cross-functional decision-making skills that are crucial for any professional. Through a holistic approach, students learn how a business really operates in the real world.


Business simulations have the flexibility to be applied across the entire business curriculum. From entry-level to MBA courses, simulations adapt to the needs of students, instructors and administrators alike. Are you looking to introduce business concepts while getting entry-level students excited about a future in business? Or are you looking to expose MBA students to the complexities of business in international markets? Business simulations accomplish this through an engaging, fun and gamified learning environment.

Meet Capsim’s Suite of Experiential Business Simulations

If you’d like to learn more about business simulations and how they can help prepare students for sustained career success, click here or contact us at Our suite of experiential learning solutions are designed to increase student engagement, develop the business and career skills needed in today’s corporate landscape, and meet both student and institutional needs.


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