Journal of Information Systems Education


Students complain that technical courses like operations management are boring, dry or unenthralling. If we characterize classroom learning between a student and an instructor as a knowledge-intensive service encounter, then students are a kind of “customer” who must interact with the classroom system and play a key role in their own learning. Without engagement and a modicum of satisfaction, student learning plummets. But where to start and how? How might we apply our non-classroom subject matter expertise to the classroom? To overcome students’ negative opinions of the learning process in an operations management course, we applied tried and true principles from service operations management (SOM) to design a better service experience that is more engaging and interesting (without capitulating to the customer being right). Our study involves three phases across two different modalities. We identified and tested key components from SOM that might impact student learning (e.g., customer contact theory, the gap model of service quality, and the psychology of waiting) and linked these components to important suggestions for increasing engagement in the classroom. We then tested how applying the SOM framework improved student satisfaction as measured by assessment of learning and student evaluations. We discovered that applying service design principles to the learning process provides a systematic way to improve student engagement and satisfaction without sacrificing rigor.



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