Geoff Malleck, Continuing Lecturer at the University of Waterloo, teaches entrepreneurial-minded students in the Masters of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program.
When the university tasked him with developing a series of courses for the popular Arts and Business Program, he was on the search for a tool that was “less textbook strategy and more ‘get your hands dirty.’” This is what he found.
Designing a course is no easy feat–especially for someone tasked with doing so in a business program–at an institution without a business school.
Professor Malleck's most significant challenge was finding a course structure that would appeal to his humanities-minded students and entrepreneurial-minded students alike.
What tool could teach liberal arts majors critical skills in marketing, finance, accounting, entrepreneurship, and strategy? Professor Malleck understood, “Capsim still had an application to students that are not in business because they're going to get jobs that require business acumen and knowledge.”
Finding the Right Fit for Creative Minds
He knew essential soft skills would equip his students to succeed after graduation. So Professor Malleck explored which tools could help him make business principles come to life in a way that would engage his classroom and spark his student’s creative spirit.
“I was looking for something that was less strategy out of a textbook and more ‘get your hands dirty,’” Geoff said. After researching, Capsim emerged as a solution provider that fit perfectly into his course design.
Professor Malleck wanted to show his students how to get their hands dirty as his business-focused careers are generally tacked onto the end of the program. Exposure to these tools as students prepare to enter the workforce comes at a critical time, keeping their newfound skills top of mind as they begin to communicate the unique value they can bring to the workforce.
Using Simulations Gives Students a Competitive Advantage
Professor Malleck encourages his students to take the initiative, practice innovation, make effective decisions, think critically, manage time, and work in teams–invaluable assets in the workforce. Students practice communication skills with presentations throughout the course, focused on the concepts they practice in the simulations.
Anna Lennox, one of Professor Malleck’s former students, is all too familiar with the gravity of every business decision and the cause and effect of the consequences. As someone who grew up on a farm, she was familiar with analyzing the impact of decision-making on an organization.
“The fact that I was involved in every component of the decision-making in Capstone was great. It related a little bit to a more small level–like entrepreneurial aspects–because even though we were working with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, it boiled down to responsibility,” Anna said.
Immersive, hands-on experiences, whether growing up on a farm, working in co-ops or simulations, all contributed to preparing Anna for the world after graduation.
His students apply the critical skill sets employers seek while developing their unique and valuable perspectives. “We want to graduate highly skilled, enterprise-ready, mature, and motivated students. We don’t want commodity graduates and everybody looking like Grade A large eggs,” Geoff said with a chuckle. “The students can develop and apply their learning and experiences using Capsim.”
With recent courses switching to an online platform, Professor Malleck was worried by the challenges, but fortunately, the experience was exceptionally well received by students. Throughout the course, Professor Malleck uses CapsimInbox: Ethical Decision-Making and CapsimInbox: Time Management to practice soft skills. In addition, TeamMATE helps professor Malleck increase collaboration. At the end of his courses, the self-directed evaluation tool provides students with relevant feedback to reflect on their growth throughout the course.
While Professor Malleck is hesitant to say his students enjoy the simulations at first, the increased popularity of his course sections indicates that his approach is having a meaningful impact seen through word-of-mouth recommendations.
Time and time again, Professor Malleck’s students proved soft skills such as critical and innovative thinking, accountability, initiative, and professionalism are crucial success factors not only for excelling in the course but also during their first few interviews post-graduation.
Like the rise of success in Waterloo’s entrepreneurship startups, The Arts and Business program has witnessed a growth in popularity in the last couple of years, a trend that Geoff says is “unusual” in the arts and which he contributes to the success of introducing sim-based learning tools to the program. His courses have at least four sections, with 60 students per section per year, which is a considerable improvement from where Professor Malleck started.
The Arts and Business program at the University of Waterloo, and Professor Malleck’s four-course section, have witnessed a boom in popularity in recent years thanks to the help of Capstone and CapsimInbox, a rare momentum in the arts arena. Students have reported that they now know how to apply critical skill sets that employers are seeking, in addition to an empathy-and-responsibility-first mentality that has empowered their interpersonal skills.
Professor Malleck believes that using simulation-based learning in his classroom has allowed his students to share how they’ve already applied critical skills during job interviews. For him, this is a vital success measure to ensure students are prepared for life beyond the classroom.
Immerse learners in a risk-free environment where they operate and grow a multi-million dollar company in a dynamic and competitive market by making strategic, cross-functional business decisions.
CapsimInbox is an award-winning, simulation-based assessment platform that uses the familiarity and flexibility of email to reinforce learning and objectively evaluate critical business skills in a real-world environment.
TeamMATE is an online, self-directed evaluation tool that provides the easiest and most effective way to measure and develop teamwork skills.