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Teaching Operations Research and Management Science

One of the ironies of academic life is that a large portion of it is taken over by an aspect that few of us have formal training in: teaching! The average high school teacher has a firmer foundation on pedagogic theory than almost any university professor. This is particularly problematic in operations research since the education most of us received (research oriented knowledge/teaching methods) is far removed from what we are expected to teach (undergraduate/MBA “practical” instruction). So many of us spend a year or two mimicking our previous education (“Here’s a great proof for you!”) rather than teaching students what they really should know. And given my clearly enthusiastic belief in the usefulness and relevance of operations research, that is really a shame: instead of inspiring students, we turn them against our field.

INFORMS has had its Teaching Management Science Conference over the past few years. This year’s version will be in San Francisco in July. The program looks to have a good mix of theory (how do students learn) and practice (successful examples from top faculty). You can even stay in dorms to get the full “Live life as a student” aspect.