Texas Tech University

March Faculty Spotlight: Professor Phillip Flamm

March 23, 2011

Unique, innovative teaching approach earns national-blog recognition

Now in his eighth year at the Rawls College of Business, Professor Phillip Flamm continues to develop a unique and innovative approach to teaching Operations Management (OM) that garners the attention of academic scholars from across the nation.

Flamm, who is also a Tech Alum himself, spent thirty years as a plant manager and industrial engineer before eventually returning to Lubbock to share his experiences as a professor of Information Systems and Quantitative Sciences (ISQS).

Drawing on his vast professional experience, Flamm incorporates this knowledge into the Operations Management curriculum, which is now an integral part of both the success of the course and for Flamm as a professor. In an effort to better enhance the learning experience for students, Flamm refocuses the OM coursework in several innovative ways.

Most Operations Management courses tend to have a quantitative focus and often have hundreds of students participating in a single class. This environment can create obstacles that often make learning a challenge. Recognizing this, Flamm incorporates the use of Personal Response System (PRS) technology in the classroom. The PRS system involves using remote "clickers," where students have the capability to answer questions and become more engaged in the lecture.

Additionally, Flamm overhauled the curriculum to only focus on the most relevant concepts, while supplementing the learning materials with real-world stories from his own professional background. But perhaps most importantly, Flamm sees it best to divide the coursework between lectures and labs where students work in groups to develop business plans just as they would in the professional world. This change in particular, led to numerous students developing and starting their own businesses after graduating.

These uncharacteristic innovations in teaching Operations Management have not gone unnoticed by academic scholars. Recently, Professor Flamm was approached by Dr. Barry Render, author of several widely used textbooks and co-editor of "Jay and Barry's OM Blog," a nationally-recognized blog on Operations Management, to become a monthly guest-blogger to share his experiences with others in the academic world. Responses to Flamm's approach have been overwhelmingly positive and have potential to change the way OM is taught in other universities throughout the country.