MCC instructor creates games to help students with real-world decision-making

“The Athena Program” places students in a global setting to help shape their decision making skills.

In our fast-paced world, people find themselves constantly having to make decisions. But sometimes it’s hard to know which decision is the right one.

Metropolitan Community College psychology instructor Bob Williams and his son Alex Williams, program director of psychology at the KU Edwards campus, have developed two games to help students effectively work through the decision-making process.

MCC faculty member Bob Williams created “The Athena Program.”

He calls it “The Athena Program,” named after the Greek goddess of wisdom.

The games put teams of students in real-life situations and requires them to make decisions about changing variables within the games. The games are played out across four boards where students can see the impact of their decisions.

The games teach key elements of decision-making skills including critical and creative thinking. They also help develop leadership and teamwork skills along with sharpening personal relations and problem solving.

The games also teach students how to implement the decisions they make.

“The idea is to create a program that would help college students work in the real world,” Williams says. “We try to teach the principles of real-world decision making so people can learn them and apply them.”

During the first game, students work in teams to run a business. During the competition they try to grow their business in four different markets while dealing with a series of changing conditions. Students try to improve the company in the areas of customer service, employee quality and sales.

Williams talks with students during a game.

“They learn how to communicate, working together to develop solutions,” Williams says.

In the second game, the student teams represent countries. They face scenarios that include the threat of nuclear war, a plague and a food shortage.

During this game they not only compete but can cooperate with each other to produce the desired results for their teams.

There is also a time component to the games that adds pressure to the decision-making process.

“We’re trying to simulate life,” Williams says. “This parallels what people face in real life. A lot happens at once.”

Williams compares the games to a flight simulator for pilots. It creates a safe environment where students can learn from their mistakes without any real consequences.

Each of the games can take up to four hours to play.

He plans to debut them April 12 and 19. Williams teaches at MCC-Maple Woods and has recruited students from MCC to play the games along with students his son has recruited from KU Edwards in Overland Park. The students will be divided into five teams.

The first game will be played at KU Edwards, with the second one played the following week at MCC-Maple Woods.

People from area businesses and organizations will watch the games and provide students feedback on their decisions.

Williams says the games could also help create relationships between those businesses and the campuses.

“This is something businesses could use to train workers,” Williams says. “We can tailor a game to what an organization is looking for specific to their situation.”