- This research is aimed at obtaining a better understanding of the impact of the use of collaborative and simulation sessions for learning lean principles and methods. Study participants were enrolled in a Lean Manufacturing System Engineering (IE436/536) course at Oregon State University or at three other business and engineering universities where lean manufacturing or related courses focusing on lean principles and methods were taught, including Oakland University's Pawley Lean Institute, University of Pittsburgh, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Lean principles and methods have been documented as an effective improvement methodology and have been applied by many organizations globally since the late 1970s. With the widespread application and potential benefit of lean principles and methods, several professional centers, engineering schools, and some business schools, have taught lean principles and methods in order to educate and train learners in lean knowledge and skills before and/or after entering the workplace. Non-traditional teaching methods e.g., collaborative learning activities and simulation activities aimed at improving training and teaching have been widely used and have been shown to be successful in some studies (e.g., Verma, 2003; Armstrong, 2003; Nikendei, 2007). Little research, however, has focused on how these non-traditional teaching methods might affect learner perceptions e.g., self-efficacy beliefs and attitudes. The relationship between learning and learner perceptions related to the learning of lean principles and methods when using non-traditional teaching methods is also not well understood.
The purpose of this research study was three fold: first, to examine the impact of lean collaborative and simulation sessions on lean learning, self-efficacy beliefs, and attitudes; second, to determine whether or not learner background knowledge had an impact on lean learning, self-efficacy beliefs, or attitudes; and, finally, to explore the relationships between lean learning, self-efficacy beliefs, and attitudes. In the first study, data were collected from students who took IE436/536 Lean Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Oregon State University during the Fall term of 2010 or the Fall term of 2011. In the second study, data were collected from students who enrolled in three other engineering or business schools where lean manufacturing systems or related courses that included content involving lean principles and methods were taught using collaborative and simulation sessions. Data from the first study were used to examine the impact of lean collaborative and simulation sessions on learning, self-efficacy beliefs, and attitudes; data from the second study were used to examine on self-efficacy beliefs and attitudes.
Results from the first study point out the importance of the use of collaborative sessions on learning for both lean methods studied (Jidoka and pull); whereas, the use of simulation, following collaborative sessions, provided benefits only to those students learning Jidoka methods. The research revealed that the content plays a role in the effect of the use of collaborative and/or simulation sessions. Overall, analysis of individual self-efficacy beliefs revealed no significant self-efficacy differences after participants engaged in simulation sessions. The results did indicate that there were significant differences in intrinsic goal motivation after participating in simulation sessions. The level of background knowledge demonstrated a mixed effect on learning and on attitudes. The findings showed a significant difference in learning pull only for some students. The level of background knowledge did impact learner intrinsic goal motivation, but did not impact other attitudes. In addition, the results indicated that the type of session and background knowledge impacted learning; whereas, only self-efficacy beliefs was shown to impact learner attitudes.
In the second study, the overall research findings show that significant differences in learner extrinsic goal motivation resulted from the use of collaborative and simulation sessions. The findings revealed that the sequencing of the teaching methods influenced learner attitudes and self-efficacy beliefs. For example, significant differences in learner task value were found only when participants participated in simulation sessions first, followed by collaborative sessions. Similarly, the results showed that participants from universities, in which learners participated in collaborative sessions first, followed by simulation sessions, had higher levels of self-efficacy beliefs when compared with participants from a university in which learners participated in simulation sessions first and then collaborative sessions.
Taken together, these research findings provide evidence that the use of collaborative and simulation session, as supplemental tools for teaching lean principles and methods, is beneficial. Based on these results lean educators should consider the content areas, the sequence of the use of non-traditional teaching methods, and self-efficacy beliefs as important potential factors in teaching and training lean principles and methods.