Theoretical Framework
The main approach to the problem was based on prior research conducted at Ball State on learning styles. This prior study (Knapp, 1993) measured the learning styles of 134 business majors and 34 non-business majors at Ball State. The study is based on Kolb’s experiential learning style theory (1976), using a simplified learning style inventory (LSI) instrument. The results of the study provide support for the hypothesis that business majors favor concrete learning styles. The Accommodator (n=39) and Diverger styles (n=27) (both concrete) are significantly favored over the Converger (n=6) and Assimilator (n=7) styles (both abstract conceptualization).
The design of the course is based on the hypothesis that a class taught using a concrete experiential learning tool will increase the level of interest in operations management.
Based on the preference for concrete learning styles of teaching, a course simulation was created enabling students to utilize and experience operations management concepts learned in class. The simulation is based on the familiar metaphor of a chain of pizza restaurants.
A very large and complex multi-competitor, single market economic model was constructed using Microsoft Excel. The economic model provides a variety of inputs based on operations management concepts taught throughout the year. For example, the course section on break-even analysis provides the tools for the students to make decisions about building additional stores. Additional operations choices become available following the completion of each chapter (a full discussion of the simulation will be presented in an upcoming article). In each case, groups of students utilize the techniques and concepts learned in the chapter to make informed decisions. Process simulation software (SimQuick) is also used to support the exercise.
A pre- and post-course survey was conducted. This survey measures the level of interest in...