Incorporating Business Simulations and Case Studies into Instruction

Many advisors ask the question, “How do I integrate Collegiate DECA business simulations and case studies into my instructional practices?” Business simulations and case studies are teaching tools that provide relevant, meaningful problems for students to solve, provide a standards-based evaluation, increase rigor of the curriculum, result in evidence of student learning and expose students to Collegiate DECA – all as part of the classroom instruction. Here are a few steps.

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with event guidelines and performance indicators.

Use the Collegiate DECA Guide to familiarize yourself with event guidelines that explain how each competitive event will operate – time limits, exam specifications, interactions with a judge, etc.

Business simulations and case studies are developed using performance indicators – key concepts from national curriculum standards that students should learn during their college career. Collegiate DECA uses only four lists of performance indicators which are organized by career cluster –business management & administration, finance, hospitality & tourism and marketing.

For example, advisors teaching accounting courses can use the Finance Career Cluster performance indicator list to plan their curriculum while advisors teaching marketing courses can use the Marketing Career Cluster performance indicator list. Each performance indicator list is arranged by instructional areas to assist advisors with planning units of instruction.

Step 2: Understand how business simulation and case study scenarios are designed.

Scenarios used for Collegiate DECA’s business simulations and case studies measure five performance indicators. Usually, at least three of the five performance indicators have been selected from the event situation’s instructional area. Therefore, if the event situation is asking the participant to develop a promotion plan, most of the performance indicators will be from the promotion instructional area.

It is very easy to identify the career cluster and primary instructional area for business simulations and case studies by looking at the top of the first page of the event.

Step 3: Start collecting sample events.

Each year, Collegiate DECA posts sample business simulations and case studies on its website. DECA Images also sells previously-used events each year. Gather these samples and begin to categorize them by instructional area.

Step 4: Use sample events as a classroom activity.

As you teach different instructional areas during the semester, use corresponding business simulations and case studies as teaching tools. While the traditional competitive event setting requires interaction with judges, many advisors have used business simulations and case studies as:

  • warm-up activities at the beginning of classes
  • writing exercises that require students to write their ideas for solving the problem presented in the business simulation or case study
  • public speaking exercises  that require students to deliver an oral report which presents their ideas for solving the problem presented in the business simulation or case study
  • assessment tools in lieu of a multiple-choice quiz/test

Since the evaluation form for each business simulation and case study assesses the performance indicators, you are measuring students’ performance according to national curriculum standards which are industry validated and aligned to career clusters. 

Next Steps

Form competition teams on your college/university campus.  Competition teams are essentially groups of students in various academic areas which will represent your institution at the Collegiate DECA International Career Development Conference in April.  Form a team for each of the following academic areas:

  • Business Management and Administration
  • Communications and Technology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Marketing and Sales

Host a competition on your campus as an opportunity for students to prepare for the International Career Development Conference.  Campus competitions provide students with the opportunity to network with their peers, local business leaders, and campus faculty and administrators while also demonstrating what they have learned in the classroom and through work experience.  A competition host guide is available to assist with the planning of such an event.

Additional Resources

Event guidelines, performance indicator lists, sample events and sample exam questions are available at

DECA Images sells many items to assist instructors with integrating Collegiate DECA competitive events into curriculum and instruction. Visit to shop for resources.

Categories: Business Simulations, Case Studies, Collegiate Competitive Events, Compete