BackgroundResearch shows that learning and task performance improve when participants in management exercises understand the structure of the system they control. However, the majority of business simulators are black-boxes. AimThis article introduces structural debriefing, which is a debriefing activity aimed at helping students learn about causal relationships, feedbacks, accumulations, and delays within a black-box simulation. MethodA structural debriefing can be prepared and facilitated by following the Structural Debriefing Protocol. ResultsA pilot study was conducted in which undergraduate students participated in a structural debriefing of The LITTLEFIELD TECHNOLOGIES, a popular simulation for teaching principles of operations management. The students were able to complete all eight steps of a structural debriefing, but required considerable time (three academic terms) to do so. Not every instructional simulation will require all the steps or such a large time commitment. ConclusionThe successful completion of the pilot study demonstrates that structural debriefing is a useful debriefing technique. However, to be effective, the scope and format of a structural debriefing activity must suit practical and pedagogical considerations.
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