Teaching operations planning at the undergraduate level

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It is often challenging to make decisions about how to teach planning within an undergraduate operations management module. This article defines and compares the two standard options available to instructors: (a) the traditional “technical” approach or (b) the “conceptual” or “conversational” approach. Through a reflective action research methodology, this article examines modules taught with both approaches. From a learning theory standpoint, the conclusion is that the technical approach does a good job of staging learning in manageable chunks, but students rarely end up with an insightful understanding of planning systems. The conceptual approach offers more opportunities for learning, but these opportunities can only be taken advantage of if students engage and have enough knowledge prerequisites. To overcome the limitations of these two approaches, this article describes a more robust active learning approach based on using substitute experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2019


  • hierarchical planning
  • Teaching
  • learning
  • substitute experiences
  • learning cycle


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