Using Triangulation to Enhance Student's Experiential Learning: A Pilot Initiative in Close Association With P&G
During Spring 2019, Sherwat Ewan, associate professor of operations management, the AUC Career Center, and P&G joined forces to provide students of the supply chain management course with an innovative experiential learning experience.
Managing supply chains and their operations is a complex and challenging task. Grasping the basic concepts of supply chain management requires hands-on experience and competing through supply chain management depends on the ability to keep up with the latest trends in the industry.
In collaboration with P&G and the AUC Career Center Experiential Learning team, Elwan restructured the supply chain management course to allow for multiple touchpoints with industry partners to enhance the students learning experience. This required careful course planning and scheduling ahead of the semester. The team then agreed on using a triangular approach to verify student learning throughout the semester, using more than one method to collect and apply data on the same topic meanwhile providing a substantial learning experience for students.
The first phase of this experiential learning module includes a classroom visit by representatives of the corporate institute that is being partnered with; in this case, P&G, to give students a series of in-class talks about topics related to the course. A multi-disciplined team from P&G in the areas of sales, distribution, supply chain and warehouse and purchasing were hosted in the class, speaking about functions that echo in the course, acknowledging the occurrence of a chapter on each of the functions in the course syllabus.
The second phase includes a field trip to the corporate plant to get a hands-on experience of what was discussed both during the course and during the lectures by guest speakers. Students visited the P&G plant on a one-day trip where they observed the inventory, warehousing and manufacturing facilities of P&G. Proceeding that, they are required to propose ideas and recommendations based on what they’ve perceived compared to their theoretical learning along with reflective assignments and presentations on the field trip that account for up to 20% of student grades.
The final phase is a visit to the headquarters of the company for students to present their recommendations and thoughts. Students visited the P&G headquarters located in New Cairo and the entire project proved fruitful, as P&G officials up until this day are following up with a group of students, providing them with continuous and ongoing learning while benefiting from their input and fresh views.
“Supply chain management is a course offered to senior students. The ongoing relationship that is fostered between the students and P&G representatives throughout the semester allows them to build connections and exposes students to the workforce early on,” highlights Elwan. “Furthermore, the aim of the entire process is to enhance students learning experience inside the classroom by strengthening the role of industry practitioners in the course, in line with the experiential learning model which is very much advocated within the AUC School of Business”.
Students also acknowledged the importance of the experience in their learning. Undergraduate Ahmed Rezeq reflects: “The P&G visit added the perfect integration to the materials we learned in course. Having a theoretical knowledge about a subject is one thing but being able to witness it in action has a completely different feel to it. From first glance, it felt like everything we learned in class was validated. The visit did not only provide us with practical knowledge, but it also had some of us, or me at least, drift away into thinking about my future. The visit almost felt like a great job-shadowing opportunity and the talks that were given at the time were beneficial”
Building on the effectiveness of the new format and the hospitality and enormous knowledge sharing by P&G, the success is being capitalized on during the current semester of Fall 2019 and the model is being replicated in different courses, all with the aim of a fully integrated experience for students.