Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Assessing Student Problem Solving Using Structured versus Unstructured Case Analysis

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Assessing Student Problem Solving Using Structured versus Unstructured Case Analysis

Article excerpt


Problem solving is one of the learning goals noted in the accreditation standards of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSBI). As a learning goal, problem solving is measured to demonstrate that schools accomplish the educational aims at the core of its activities (Attaway et. al, 2011). The assessment or assurance of learning process affords a business school the opportunity to gather data in a standardized format, which is used to assess program outcomes. Furthermore, problem solving is assessed using multiple methods, including but not limited to, quantitative word problems. Problem solving skills are used in qualitative assessments were students must make a decision based on the facts presented, identified issue and the method available to solve the issue. Students utilize problem solving skills in case analysis. This paper will assess student problem solving skills in case analysis in Creating Value in Supply Chains, a required course for Executive MBA students.

Creating Value in Supply Chains is an online course with three major components negotiations and procurement; manufacturing; and logistics. Negotiations consist of working with suppliers and customers to find a mutually agreeable solution formulating and executing a purchasing strategy. The procurement strategy consists of developing a profile of a corporation's needs and its supply environment. That section ends with student executing a procurement strategy during a simulation. The simulation consists of teams that compete against each other to get the best value for the products and services it intends to procure. The second section consists of analyzing manufacturing and logistics problems through case studies. The problems may vary from determining the best quantity of inventory to selecting the best warehouse based on costs analysis. The final section consists of students developing an innovation product business plan that incorporates the procurement, manufacturing and logistics issues. In this final component, measurement of student attainment in the supply chain course usually covers the acquisition of specific course knowledge in negotiating and purchasing strategies, manufacturing planning, execution and control, as well as logistics strategy development.

Prior to the case analysis, students were also introduced to theories of supply chain management through the course material and previous case analysis. In addition to the course content and skills from the case analysis process described above, students were expected to acquire additional perspective which form part of the course objectives: (1) assess and analyze the strategic role of supply chain management (SCM) in order to make decisions of supply chain resource investments;(2) assess ethical and corporate responsibility dimensions of each SCM decision; (3) devise solutions to a given set of SCM problems, including daily challenges that supply chain managers commonly face; (4) negotiate successfully based on knowledge of effective negotiation practices; and (5) use software as an analytical tool to solve SCM problems such as those related to inventory, forecasting, quality control, and location analysis.

Furthermore, student performance is measured at intervals in the course. Assignments include live negotiations, recent headline discussions, and case analysis. Students were also introduced to supply chain management theory for purchasing, supply management, quality control, inventory management, transportation and location analysis. The assignments served multiple purposes for students that allowed them to: integrate knowledge from cross-functional disciplines; recognize and communicate different conceptual models; build confidence and knowledge of supply chain management theories; and foster development of problem solving skills.

This paper extends the work of Collins, Lewis and Friday-Stroud (2011) and examines the data recently collected in there quired graduate-level business course, Creating Value in Supply Chains, to assess student problem solving and the role of case methodology in the demonstration of student learning and accomplishment of learning outcomes. …

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