A silver thread running through my over 25 years at LiU has been the ambition to perform and develop our logistics education in a good a manner as possible. Being Director of Studies for many years, educational quality in our courses was my main responsibility. In recent years, I have also been engaged with research related to logistics education.
Since I started working at LiU in 1993 I have been involved in the graduate education. I have spent roughly 50 % of my time teaching and examining, as examiner for approximately 10 different courses at 55 occasions; as participating teacher in numerous other courses; and as supervisor for some 90 Master’s Thesis’ projects and 65 major projects at master level.
Teaching sometimes involves a tension that is exhausting, since you have to be concentrated and alert during long periods of time. On the other hand, teaching can be very inspiring and energy-providing. Over the years there has been a shift from traditional lectures, going through standard exercise in the classroom to a greater proportion of case-based education, discussion seminars and project work. These latter forms of teaching and learning activities promote a more active learning, and a greater interaction between teacher and student, which is inspiring for both parties. A challenge connected to this kind of education is that as a teacher, you can’t control what happens in detail. You must be prepared to handle things as they come to direct student learning in the desired direction. With growing experience, these kind of educational settings is what I like the most.
Most logistics courses we provide are directed to students following programmes in Industrial Engineering or Mechanical Engineering, but we also teach Business Administration students. A majority of the courses are at master level, which means that the students bring a lot of knowledge with them when entering these courses. Many students choose logistics as their master profile (a final specialization of their studies), meaning that they are highly motivated. This is inspiring for us teaching them, but it also puts pressure in us, since the students expect a top-level education. Teaching at university means a lot of responsibility. The students invest some years of their lives to get a good education. As teachers, we have a responsibility to give as good a journey as possible. To do this you got to be well-prepared, concerning subject knowledge as well as didactic/pedagogic knowledge. Over time, you establish a good foundation, an arsenal of educational tools that gives you a good teaching confidence. This allows you to be well prepared with less effort, and thereby opening up for activities of a more developing kind.
At present, I participate in approximately five courses every year, giving lectures and leading different kinds of seminars. I am also examiner for a course in Purchasing, and supervise master’s theses and smaller projects.
Over the years, I have put down much work developing teaching forms, education forms etc. in smaller and larger scale.
During 2000 - 2017 I was appointed Director of Studies for the Logistics education, and thereby responsible for administration and development of our courses.
Administratively this means, among other things, to control the course budgets, to staff the courses wisely, and to communicate with different steering committees. An important part within this is to within given budget open up possibilities for development activities in order to improve the way we teach and examine.
An important part of the educational leadership is to stimulate and manage development activities in a desired direction. Equally important (or more) is to create a team spirit and a positive climate, encouraging cooperation and making everyone feel they develop. We arrange meetings to discuss different educational issues, including course content and pedagogical aspects. We have tried to create good interfaces between the courses, thereby establishing a good progression between the students following these courses. This requires a common view of what knowledge and skills we want the students to learn, as well as what pedagogical forms to use. This has lead us to use educational activities requiring the students to think, reflect and question things to a greater extent than we consider them to have done so far during their studies.
My ambition is to conduct research which is useful for practicians who are occupied with improving logistics practice in different contexts, as well as for teachers in Higher Education striving to improve their education in logistics and related disciplines. Therefore, my research deals with logistical as well as educational aspects, and in some cases I have been able to combine these two areas in the same project.
Funded by Handelsrådet (The Swedish Retail and Wholesale Council) I am during 2021-22 studying how total cost analysis is conducted and used in the Swedish retail sector. In cooperation with some case companies I will investigate how such analyses are currently performed, and how the analysis processes can be improved with better decision support as a result.
Over the years I have noticed that most university teachers (including me) have a limited knowledge about research within teaching, assessment and learning. I became interested in finding out how logistics ‘really’ should be taught. Based on a extensive literature review I realized that research within this area was scarce. A more thorough investigation of this led to a licentiate thesis, which I defended in 2014.
In my licentiate thesis "PTowards Pedagogical Content Knowledge in Logistics" from 2014, I made an overview of the current research within logistics education. One thing in focus was so called "learning thresholds", i.e. steps students must pass in order to develop their skills and knowledge within logistics.
In the PhD thesis, which I defended in 2019, "Total Cost Analysis in Logistics - Practical Execution, Learning, and Teaching in Higher Education", focus is on total cost analysis - a central issue within logistics, and important in many other contexts as well. Many decisions are taken based on comparisons of costs for alternative actions. Such cost analyses are often difficult, leading to unsufficient decision support, and the risk for unwise decisions. In the thesis, I describe the complexity and challenges associated with practising total cost analysis, and propose a twelve-step process for structured total cost analysis. I also describe the learning thresholds students encounter when learning total cost analysis, and how this learning can be supported by the use of suitable educational methods.