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Enhancing student engagement in business sustainability through games

Kay Emblen-Perry (Worcester Business School, University of Worcester, Worcester, Worcestershire, UK)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 3 July 2018

Issue publication date: 15 August 2018




This paper aims to explore the value students place on the sustainable strategies game (SSG) which seeks to improve student engagement in business sustainability through enhanced game-based learning. This game provides an alternative collaborative learning environment to the traditional instructivist approach to enrich Education for Sustainability (EfS) learning experiences and enhance student engagement.


Students’ reflections on their game-based learning experiences and suggestions for game development were collected through a short qualitative survey. Results are explored through three frameworks, namely, the multifaceted student value model, the dimensions of engagement framework and the UK higher education authority (HEA) framework for engagement through partnership.


Research findings suggest the SSG provides game-based learning within EfS that delivers “edutainment” within an active, collaborative and experiential learning environment that the students value. It is also able to challenge thinking and emotionally engage students with the fundamentals of business sustainability. Reflection-on-action and the students’ role as co-researchers in game development allow students to become active participants in their learning as well as knowledge producers and evaluators. These outcomes deliver the UK HEA’s core facets of student engagement through partnership.

Research limitations/implications

This practice-focused study presents the self-reported results of a one-time, small study which does not offer generalised, independently validated responses. However, the findings may be of interest to educators considering the adoption of game-based learning and those seeking new learning cultures for EfS.

Practical implications

Game-based learning and teaching approaches can achieve a learner-centred active, collaborative learning environment that enhances student engagement with business sustainability.


Experiences gained from this study should assist others in the implementation of game-based learning to engage students in business sustainability.



Disclosure statement: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.


Emblen-Perry, K. (2018), "Enhancing student engagement in business sustainability through games", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 858-876.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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