Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2011

Summary of projects

Poster of Project - Creating and evaluating interactive simulation models to engage students in industry-based courses

Project title

Creating and evaluating interactive simulation models to engage students in industry-based courses

Project leaders

  • Dr France Cheong
  • Dr Christopher Cheong

Project team

  • Associate Professor Prem Chhetri, School of Business IT & Logistics
  • Professor Caroline Chan, School of Business IT & Logistics
  • Dr Ferry Jie, School of Business IT & Logistics
  • Associate Professor Colin Arrowsmith, School of Mathematical and Geospatial Science
  • Mr Tass Katsoulidis, Academic Development Group
  • Dr Jonathan Corcoran, School of Geography, Planning & Environmental Management, University of Queensland

Project summary

Students have difficulty comprehending complex concepts involved in logistics networks and supply chains. Simulation, the process of developing a model of a system that can be altered to determine the impact of key variables on the system, is promising for studying the characteristics of complex systems due its learning-by-doing, interactive and engaging nature. Using modelling and simulation tools in learning and teaching is an innovative pedagogical approach for facilitating the conceptualisation of the activities and interactions that occur within and between the firm’s functional areas and its business partners. Thus, the aim of this project was to develop a set of simulation models and tools to create a challenging, interactive and engaging learning experience for undergraduate and postgraduate students in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (L&SCM).

A set of modelling and simulation tools and accompanying teaching materials were developed in semester 1 2011 based on data provided by an industry partner. The modelling and simulation tools included several mapping models based on the publicly available Google Maps API and an agent based simulation model of the distribution process developed using NetLogo, an open source simulation software. The teaching materials included: a case study, a user guide, a set of workshop notes and an assignment. Although not a requirement for the project, a web site was also developed to host the tools and teaching materials on the School’s web server for ease of access and use. Another extension to the scope of the project was the development of a global positioning system (GPS) tracking system to capture geo-coordinates of a delivery truck fitted with the developed device which transmits data periodically over the cellular phone network to a database hosted on the School’s server.

The teaching approach was implemented and evaluated in the postgraduate course, Logistics Systems (OMTG2087) in semester 2 2011. Two workshops were conducted to allow students to familiarise themselves with the case study and the tools and subsequently they were asked to perform an assignment.

Evaluation of the teaching method was performed using a mixed-method research approach. During the workshops, qualitative and quantitative data were collected to evaluate student experience and learning outcomes. Results show that positive learning outcomes were attained and students found the tools useful and many would use the tools at work. After the assignment was completed, students were asked to participate in a voluntary questionnaire survey to collect qualitative and quantitative data for further evaluation. Again, survey results confirmed enhanced student experience as students found the tools to be useful, motivating and engaging while examination of the assignments confirmed the high quality of students’ work. We also used Information Systems adoption theories and statistical methods based on Structural Equation Modelling to identify the factors influencing the success of the teaching method and we established guidelines for successfully implementing a teaching method using technology (simulation modeling tools in this project) in a course.

Outcomes

The conceptual outcome of this project is the design of a teaching method based on Information Systems theories to include technology, namely simulation modelling tools, in learning and teaching. The factors that influence the adoption of the technology-based learning tools by students in their studies were identified and a set of guidelines have been formulated to serve as framework when designing such teaching methods.

The concrete outcomes of the project are:

  • A set of modelling simulation and simulation tools available online useful for teaching logistics concepts
  • A set of accompanying teaching materials, namely: user guide, workshop notes, assignment
  • A GPS tracking system for tracking location of delivery trucks
  • Usage of the teaching approach resulted in enhanced student experience and positive learning outcomes
  • Paper accepted by Informing Science + IT Education Conference (InSite) : Re-purposing Google Maps Visualisation for Teaching Logistics Systems, 22 – 27 June 2012, Montreal, Canada.
  • Papers in progress: (1) Using Simulation Modelling to Enhance Learning of Strategic Decision Making in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, (2) A Simulation-Modelling-based Approach for Teaching Distribution Concepts in Logistics Management (3), Evaluation of a Simulation- Modelling-based Teaching Approach in Logistics Systems using UTAUT, and (4) An agentbased- model of a distribution process.

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