Big Idea: Professor Uses Board Games to Teach Decision-Making

 

OstrowshiJames Ostrowski, a professor in industrial and information engineering, devised a big idea to combat his students’ boredom: board games.

Starting in the spring, Ostrowski will use board games to help students in Industrial Engineering 322 learn about operations research.

Operations research is a sub-section of engineering that focuses on using “analytical methods to make decisions with large amounts of data,” Ostrowski said.

He wanted to find something fun to do with his students to help them engage with class topics, and the choice was obvious.

“I’m kind of a board game nerd,” he said.

Specifically, he will be using Ticket to Ride, a train adventure game made by Days of Wonder Boardgames. In it, players must decide how to make the longest possible train route across North America using cards they have collected.

Ostrowski has been awarded a Creative Teaching Grant for this idea. The Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center gives these grants to instructors who change their classes in an innovative way. The instructors receive $5,000 to implement their ideas.

Ostrowski also has applied for the National Science Foundation’s Transforming Undergraduate Education grant. It is awarded to professors who change how their classes are taught and make them more hands on.

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