Those who can, teach

Peter Horner,

In an online exchange with Peter Bell regarding his invited article for this special “Innovative Education” issue of OR/MS Today, I posed the following question: During the last five or 10 years, at least 200 business schools have launched analytics programs to meet the obvious market demand. Yet, as Peter noted in his draft, other business schools have been dropping “analytics” (some form of operations research/management science/analytics) from their MBA core for decades, and the data shows that the trend is continuing. What is wrong with this picture?

“I have an answer,” Peter wrote back.

I always invite Peter to contribute to this special issue because, well, I have questions and Peter has answers – studied, clear answers – especially when the topic is the state of education in business schools. A professor of management science at the Ivey School of Business at Western University in Ontario, Canada, Peter is a past recipient of the INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of OR/MS Practice. He also served as chair of the INFORMS Franz Edelman Prize Competition (2013 and 2014). When Peter talks about the link between business school teaching and real-world practice, I listen.

So what was his answer to the “wrong picture” question? For that, you’ll have to read Peter’s provocative article in which he makes the case for why analytics belongs in the MBA core curriculum.

The first call I make after getting Peter Bell onboard for this special issue goes to the most recent recipient of the INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of OR/MS Practice. Who better to share some insight and advice on the art and science of teaching OR/MS practice than the person who just won an award for doing exactly that?

This year’s prize-winning professor, Jason Merrick of Virginia Commonwealth University, tells a personal and poignant story of how he found success by focusing on his learning rather than his teaching. Jason comes from a family full of schoolteachers, including his mother who imparted on her son a few simple principles of teaching, one of which prompted him to connect his research to the real world. For more on Jason’s journey, click here.

Next, Bernard Pagnoncelli of the School of Business at the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez (Chile) and Abraham Seidmann of the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester explain how they manage to reach and teach Millennials by “bridging the gap between a data-intensive and technological world and the classic professor-blackboard (or PowerPoint) paradigm.” Their secret weapon? Competitive simulation games. For more on the story, click here.

Are you smart enough to teach O.R. to a third-grader? That was the dilemma Ken Chelst, a professor at Wayne State University, faced this summer when asked to present a workshop for K-12 teachers in Minnesota. Chelst has a long history of developing introductory O.R. programs for high school students, but he drew the K-5 group of teachers for an afternoon session. Find out what happened here.

Our “Innovative Education” coverage wraps up with profiles of the three finalists for this year’s UPS George D. Smith Prize for an “academic department or program for effective and innovative preparation of students intent on pursuing careers as practitioners of operations research.” Click here to see what they’re doing right. Learning is, after all, a lifelong endeavor.

 Peter Horner, editor