Teaching

Lincoln has taught in New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong. The range of classes taught include:

  • Operations Management (Postgraduate and also at the MBA level)
  • Supply Chain Management (MBA)
  • Global Operations Management (Postgraduate)
  • Introduction to Operations and Supply Chain Management (Undergraduate)
  • Strategic Supply Chain and Logistics Management (Undergraduate)
  • Business and Society (first year undergraduate)

Over the last twelve years of teaching, I have led a range of tutorials and classes from Undergraduate to Postgraduate and executive-level teaching. My style has evolved to enhance the the interaction between myself and the student in a student-oriented learning process. To me, this represents a co-creation of knowledge as I work with my students to develop a better understanding of the topic – for both of us. The student-oriented approach requires commitment from my students to be open to new information or perspectives from me, relating it to what they know from past study or work experience and then integrating generating new insights and theoretical connections between concepts. In practice, this resembles an active-learning approach (Prince, 2004; Wood and Reefke, 2010). I see my role largely as a facilitator and a guide to the development of these insights and theoretical frameworks that they can later apply to a range of situations.

A team of students working through the Fresh Connection simulation. Our team of post-graduate students reached the national finals, where they also competed with seasoned business professionals.

What I am to aspire in each class I teach will relate largely to the type of programme I am in and background of my students. Where I am teaching introductory classes (e.g., operations management as an introductory and core class within the MBA programme), my focus will tend towards bringing the class to a better level of understanding of widely applicable operational frameworks or tools. For students with less background, a use of cases and examples, related back to familiar or ordinary every-day activities [or New Zealand-based companies, when I develop my case studies; e.g., Wood (2012a, 2012b)], helps me to guide their thinking. For those students with more background, I guide their thinking to broaden their ability to apply what they already know to a range of new circumstances.

My teaching and assessment activities are designed to guide the students towards learning about a framework or model in the teaching environment, then developing comprehension through the application in a learning activity or assessment item. In this form, I follow goal-oriented teaching practices. Many of the questions I pose in class or assessment items are formulated to provoke thinking about core/foundational issues relating to the models we use. By doing this, I encourage my students to more deeply consider how and why a model works, allowing them to apply it contextually to a range of situations (i.e., rather than attempting to apply blindly to all circumstances). Such comprehension of the models and concepts requires a depth of critical thinking about a range of management scenarios and the tools/models themselves; engagement in a problem-solving process; and the written communication of results, analysis, and recommendations in a manner that are clear, concise, and precise. Students find themselves connecting the dots and interpreting new scenarios or critiquing existing frameworks. My preference is to provide spaces for the students to engage with one another and bounce ideas around and learn from the experiences or knowledge of their classmates.

Using the manufacture of paper airplanes to understand kanban and control of WIP

To achieve these outcomes, I use a range of methods based on authentic learning principles (Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2010) and experiential learning. I focus on the development and use of skills as they would be used in real environments. While my setting (e.g., in a classroom) may be non-authentic, the requirements of the students and the task we focus on is authentic (although, admittedly, sometimes contrived to make it manageable within a short period). My classes involve me talking and addressing key points, activities (practically solving small problems), around-the-table discussions on points or questions I derive from the material, case studies and related discussions, and sometimes demonstrations of key principles (e.g., through demonstration of Little’s Law in a steady system —See Appendix A). Between classes, or in preparation for classes, I develop and record specific screencast discussions on problems or examples brought up in class, or to address issues raised by students. For my demonstrations and I use a range of simulations to develop a sense of experiential learning:

  • in-class Beer Game (aka Beer Distribution Game) to illustrate the bullwhip effect.
  • Comprehensive simulations like the Fresh Connection simulation (https://www.thefreshconnection.biz/) to develop analytic skills, communication, and awareness and management of key operational trade-offs.
  • Carefully structured paper-airplane manufacturing in groups to illustrate principles of quality, management of inventory, Kanban, and line-balancing.
  • Variability in Sequential Workstations modelled in spreadsheet format (Appendix C) – which I developed in the most recent MBA term to help students understand the impact of variability, bottlenecks, and capacity use.
  • Littlefield Laboratories simulation to help students understand capacity, constraints, and variability and how these influence operational and financial success.

I enjoy interacting with my students either in one-to-one environments (e.g., office hours or mentoring research-focused students in the clarity of writing) or in small-group discussions in classes. I use the opportunities to draw out key assumptions made by the student, giving me a better perspective of ‘where they are coming from’. Understanding their perspectives allows me to adjust my message or provide alternate examples that help them to connect with and therefore comprehend material more effectively.

Assessment activities are integral to the design of my class plans and inter- or intra-term changes I make. The foundation of my approach is a criterion-referenced approach – if the students can demonstrate a particular achievement, I allocate marks for this. The criterion-referenced approach is transparent to my students and is also visible through the use of detailed grading rubrics that I provide, indicating specific requirements and how to judge whether the student has attained the required level of achievement. When designing assessment activities, my preference is to use in-depth case studies or assignments based around real organisations, allowing authentic learning principles in the application of analytic processes or models to real situations. My use of assessment items and activities changes, depending on required outcomes and the level of mastery I expect from students (Reiners & Wood, 2013). Where tests are used, my focus is on an in-depth understanding of key principles, by presenting case studies requiring true comprehension of the principles to apply them effectively in those particular circumstances.

I constantly strive to use feedback (both formal feedback in student evaluations and information comments or emails) to understand which topics and areas my students find challenging and then re-create how I present this material. My efforts work towards understanding where miscomprehensions lie and then working to develop a new approach which will help overcome these weaknesses. Often, I’ll get ideas from my analysis of a range of assignment answers. In most cases, my solutions come back to helping the students to comprehend key relationships or issues through experiential learning – allowing them to work out what doesn’t work and use this as feedback as they develop more effective solutions to problems. While developing my tools and approaches, I’ve published my insights and research into experiential learning based on the application of game-based principles in educational settings. These materials are spread over six book chapters, ten conference papers, two journal articles, and the edited volume: Gamification in Business and Education (Reiners & Wood, 2015).

Impact of variability on system performance over a four-workstation setup. Students were able to change different settings to create situations where there were more or less variable processes, add in bottlenecks, etc. They were able to see numeric results from each simulation (e.g., flow-time experienced by customers) and a visual representation of the overall queues as they formed.

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