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Teaching Tip: The 8 Minute OM Lecture

September 3, 2015

lectureFor decades, I taught operations management at Rollins College in classes that met once a week–in 3 hour time blocks for full time students, 4 hour classes for EMBAs. Yet numerous studies have demonstrated that students retain little of our OM lectures, with research on determining the “average attention span” congregating around 8-10 minutes (see Attention Span Statistics, 2015 or BBC, 2010). So maybe it is time to try a new approach, the 8-minute lecture, advocated in Faculty Focus (Aug. 31, 2015).

How to implement the 8-minute lecture
1. Prepare students – Explain your teaching methodology and your rationale for doing things a certain way. This helps manage students’ expectations. Many of our business students expect to mostly listen to lectures and take notes. They are less accustomed to an active learning environment that involves debates on readings (which this blog’s OM in the News articles provide for you to share with your class), small group discussions and report-backs, quick multiple choice clicker quizzes, problem sets, and short lectures.

2. Redesign/rewrite lectures – Review your lectures to identify natural breaks. Where can you pause without losing meaning? How can you use students’ knowledge from their homework and previous learning as a scaffold? For example, when covering Location Analysis (Chapter 8), your 1st lecture might be on global location decisions, 2nd on 1-2 quantitative measures, 3rd on service strategies, etc.

3. Look for areas in your lecture that instead can be learned from an image, video (there are 35 free 6-12 minute videos we have created to accompany the text), or interactive activity, and substitute accordingly. Cull through the content until you have eliminated 2/3 of your lecture material.

4. Once this topic is fully explored, give another 8-minute lecture, and then engage students in a new activity that teaches the next learning objective. At the end of class, test to ensure that the objectives had been met by asking students for a 2-to-3-sentence note card summarizing their learning.

Hopefully, the success of this method of interspersing mini-lectures with activities, discussions, and time for reflection will be validated by students’ final exam scores.

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