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SEED projects 2017 – Writing, Writing Everywhere

Operations management simulator: Resources for teaching with case studies, hands-on lab and assessment exercises

Dr Timofey ShalpeginDr Timofey Shalpegin (Faculty of Business and Economics)

We planned to develop a company simulator which would allow students to make various operations management decisions from forecasting to inventory management, to capacity management. Its goal was to enhance students’ learning by allowing them to make key operations decisions for a simulated company.

We developed a set of nine independent mini-case studies simulating different operations management environments. Each case study contained three main parts: the exercise the tutor explains at the lab session; the exercise the students need to complete on the own with tutor help available; and the assessment exercise students need to complete after the lab. In this respect, we achieved the goal of the project.

While developing the project, we made a strategic decision to develop nine separate case studies rather than a single simulator. This way students could understand concepts more quickly and could perform well even if they failed at one of the previous concepts. It also decreased the development cost significantly and gave us more flexibility in choosing the order in which different topics are introduced to the students.

The resources reinforced the connection between the theoretical concepts discussed in lectures and the lab session, helping students without relevant work experience who currently struggle linking these two pieces together. The writing component is designed to help students reflect on the results they obtain and discuss their implications.

The project helped us find a better course structure for the course, Introduction to Operations and Supply Chain Management. We restructured the course and rearranged different topics to ensure students start from relatively simpler problems and gradually progress to more difficult ones. We have also redesigned the lab sessions to accommodate the new structure.