The Use of System Dynamics Simulation Models in Project Management Education

Ahmed, Heba Saleh (2016) The Use of System Dynamics Simulation Models in Project Management Education. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

The Use of System Dynamics Simulation Models in Project Management Education.pdf - Accepted Version

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This thesis explores the impact of using System Dynamics (SD) as a simulation tool to help learners understand complex, dynamic concepts in project management education, and specifically with the learning of the theory associated with Earned Value Management (EVM). SD simulation models have been used widely but mainly in business contexts to support managers in the decision making process. However the application of SD in the field of project management education has been limited and particularly in terms of assessing its potential impact to help improve learners’ skills and understanding about project management concepts.
‘Projects’ are considered to be complex information feedback systems, characterized by causality and underlying dynamic relations between multiple variables, and the ability of junior project managers to apply and experience higher practical skills in the management of these complex systems presents a real challenge in the higher education context. The ability of SD to simulate the behaviour of a system, to reveal the underlying relationships, and to help visualize its dynamic changes over time, makes SD a potential modelling tool to help supporting the learners in the project management education area. This study sets out to evaluate the use of SD in an instructional context to help postgraduate project management students to visualize and to more understand the complex dynamic relationships in the concept of EVM, a topic that features significantly in project management education.
In this study, SD was deployed to teach EVM through a series of computer based models to visualize changes of multiple interacting variables over time. The SD simulations were evaluated and improved in a series of pilot and formal studies. In an experimentally controlled study involving 46 students, EVM content was delivered with SD simulations and using traditional methods respectively. Results, both quantitative and qualitative, demonstrated a positive impact of SD on the learning of the EVM concept. Recommendations of further work to deploy SD in the delivery of complex project management content and other challenging topics, with wider pool of learners are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Computing > Information Systems
Divisions: Faculty of Technology
Depositing User: Barry Hall
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2017 16:17
Last Modified: 20 May 2019 11:16

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