evidence-based/informed teaching, flipped classrooms, guided problem-based learning, cognitive/social presence, intra-course interactions
Evidence of learning and student growth is a prized goal for programs and instructors, but is often difficult to measure with precision, especially for concepts like problem solving or critical thinking. This paper presents an experience teaching a core business course, operations management, at a Midwest (USA) regional campus that focuses on problem solving where the instructional choices are informed by theory, evidence in the literature, and author experiences. A guided problem-based learning (PBL) approach to teaching is employed using Excel exercises that are presented using interrelated narratives or dialogs. A conceptual narrative conveys why the problem being solved is important to organizations and the students’ careers. A technical narrative presents theories, tools and techniques used to solve the problems in an accessible dialog, emphasizing the how and why the problem is solved a certain way, and how those techniques/tools can be used to solve other problems. The dialogs encourage student metacognition of what they are learning, why it is important, and how it can be used more generally. The course is offered both fully online and in-person using a flipped approach, i.e. lectures are presented via videos and classroom time is spent solving problems in workshop fashion. Results show students appreciate the guided PBL approach, find the class worthwhile and realistic, find they have a better understanding of how to solve problems generally, and how the concepts fit into their careers. Improvements are indicated for achieving meaningful student interaction for learning and for gaining improved confidence in their own specific problem-solving abilities.
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