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Teaching Tip: Class Preparation Assignments (CPAs) in OM

February 20, 2015

classImagine a world where your students came to your operations management class prepared! Class time would be so much more productive and enjoyable for you and students alike. We would have informed class discussions and focus on students applying, analyzing, and evaluating the material under our expert guidance. Prepared students are not a mirage. Students will come to class prepared, but it requires a different course design. “Consider a course,” writes Faculty Focus (Feb. 16, 2015), “that uses class preparation assignments (CPAs) to inform and stimulate class discussion and a grading system that makes being prepared for class easier.”

The CPAs are assignments whose questions serve as a guide to the students in their reading, prepare them for class, and serve as a basis for class discussion. If you adopt this course design, students will come to class prepared. Therefore, you won’t have to lecture as if the students are seeing the material for the first time. Instead, you can engage the students with active learning strategies that go after higher-level learning and skill development.

How can you do this? There are any number of pre-class assignments you can make. But Jay and I think the easiest approach is to use MyOMLab. We usually assign 10 questions, taken at random from the Test Bank in MyOMLab, that correspond to the chapter(s) being covered this week. And we randomize them so each student has a different set. We also like assigning some of the OM Readings (articles like you would find in this blog). Each reading has 4 multiple choice discussion questions for students to answer. These “pre-tests” need not be worth more than 10% of the total course grade. Students are generally happy to do such open-book assignments for which they can score 100%. The tenet of this course design is that students with such assignments can acquire a basic understanding of the material themselves before coming to class.

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