It's not you, It's me: Can others learn from the challenges of teaching operations and supply chain management?

James Anthony Swaim, Kennesaw State University
Michael Maloni, Kennesaw State University
Sina Golara, Kennesaw State University
Rajaram Veliyath, Kennesaw State University


Some courses in higher education seem to be more difficult to teach than others. Extant research reveals how such courses challenge student learning and satisfaction, causing students to question their own abilities, lose motivation, and exert less effort. We study one perceived difficult business core course in operations and supply chain management (OSCM) by surveying OSCM faculty across the U.S. as well as OSCM students at one U.S. university. Applying cluster analysis, our assumption that the course is difficult-to-teach is mostly unfounded as the student experience in OSCM depends largely on the instructor. That is, student satisfaction with the OSCM core class centers on the individual instructor rather than the specific topics taught or the teaching methods applied. Moreover, we find that students make lasting and accurate expectations of the instructor early in the course. Despite our focus on OSCM, we propose that the importance of the instructor in a perceived difficult course generalizes beyond OSCM to other university courses. Subsequently, we present ideas on how academic programs can focus on the quality of instruction to alleviate difficult course concerns.