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Guest Post: Approaches for Engaging OM Students in a Study Abroad Class

April 7, 2013

flammOur Guest Post (his 8th) comes from Phillip Flamm, who teaches OM in the ISQS Department at Texas Tech University.

I have been selected to teach operations management this summer in the Texas Tech University Rawls College of Business Study Abroad Program in Spain. After recovering from the initial shock of logistical planning I began to think about what it would take to keep fifteen 20 year olds engaged for a month while they are facing the distraction of “things to do in a foreign country.” It occurred to me that the key to making this work is “keeping the students consistently engaged.” I came up with several ideas that might help to keep the students awake and productive in a small class setting:

  • Divide the students into teams of 3
  • Each member of the team will get the same final grade for 80% of the class so they will be forced to help each other
  • Grades will be based on 2 exams (taken as a team), 2 or 3 team presentations, and a peer grade (from team members plus an attitude grade from me)
  • One presentation will be a tutorial of quantitative material (basically teaching the class quantitative material)
  • The second presentation will be the team solution of an operations management case scenario

This seems to be an opportunity to create an atmosphere very nearly like the day-to-day business world. Every day workers create designs, solve problems, make decisions, prepare presentations, and receive rewards as teams. I am curious to see how the students will respond to dealing with problems that teams normally encounter when their grade depends upon how they handle themselves. The first day of class I will cover interpersonal skills topics to include conflict resolution and team building. Upon completion of this program I will enter an “after Spain” blog covering results. As part of the class, I have also arranged tours of 2 manufacturing plants.

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