THE OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT AREA IN THE EHEA: SKILLS DEVELOPED. UNIVERSITY OF CANTABRIA CASE STUDY
The implementation of reforms in the university education systems of the European Union countries has been required due to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) development process started from the Sorbonne (1998), Bologna (1999) and Prague (2001) declarations, among others.
The changes introduced aimed to adopt a comparable degree system from a common system of credits (ECTS) based on two main levels –undergraduate and postgraduate- harmonizing its duration and combining the balance between basic education, cross-cutting skills, specific knowledge and discipline skills, and professional competence.
The impact of this initiative is not only limited to the adaptation of the content of the curricula to a new structure, but it also represents a deeper transformation due to it affects other elements (teaching methods, tutorials, evaluation systems, etc.). Equally, as it is focused on an active learning rather than on a passive learning, it gives more importance to teachers and students.
Once the implementation of the new grades has been completed, it might be interesting to analyse to what extent some progress in the transformation process has been made and, as a result, whether or not the pursued objectives related to EHEA have been achieved.
This paper aims to make a contribution in this direction in the context of the Business and Management Degree and, more specifically, in the Operations Management area. In particular the aim of this paper is to make a comparison between the expectations of the students who have just started the Operations module and the perceptions of the students who have just finished it. The comparison will be made based on two topics. First of all, the position of the area of Operations Management compared to the other profiles of the degree will be stated. Secondly, regarding the skills (both generic and specific) defined in the Operations Management curricula, the extent to which the skills have been developed in the areas.
In order to do the analysis a survey was designed. The study was conducted among second and third year Business and Management students from the University of Cantabria who had just begun or just finished respectively the Operations Management module. This module is integrated by two compulsory subjects (“Strategic Operations Management” and “Operations Management Decision Tools”) and an elective subject (“Tactical Operations Management”).
The survey was integrated by questions about the students perceptions about different aspects of the Operations Management area such as, for instance, its positioning in comparison with the other profiles taught in the degree, developed skills or methodologies used. All the questions were valued with a Likert response scale (1-5).
The Rasch Model was the methodology used for the analysis. It provides objective measures from the analysis of qualitative variables. Therefore, it is an adequate tool for the Business and Management discipline where Likert scales are often used.
The preliminary results show an average interest in the Operations Management modules in comparison with the other profiles -Finance, Marketing, Accountancy, among others-. the results may show a correspondence between the expectations of the new students and the perceptions of the students who have already passed the module regarding the competences developed in the Operations Management module.