In the early decades of the new millennium, there has been a growing global application of TOC–TP tools across many industry sectors including the service, healthcare and education sectors. Within the education sector, the TOC–TP tools have been applied with success in many countries, most notably in primary and secondary education. However, there are a growing number of applications in higher education.
We report here on recent research exploring the quality of experiences of learning and teaching in higher education using the Theory of Constraints has investigated the causes of less-than-ideal learning and teaching experiences from the perspectives of students, teachers and senior academic management. The research was conducted in two business schools, one in Kenya and another in New Zealand (NZ).
The theory of constraints (TOC) methodology guided the construction of the interview guide and the analysis of data. To collect data from students, focus group discussions were used, while personal interviews were used to collect data from lecturers and senior academic managers. TOC tools including the Goal Tree, fCRT, EC and FRT's formed the backbone of hte TOC analysis. The results of this study have demonstrated the value of the TOC methodology in producing useful insights about the root causes of undesirable quality of L&T in the HE sector. Although this paper reports on a study undertaken in one business school in each of the two countries, the results are in line with global trends in higher education, indicating that the issues may be fairly generic and are likely to be of wide interest.
Dr. Vicky Mabin is a Professor of Management at Victoria Business School, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, specializing in TOC and the decision sciences. Prior to joining VUW, she worked for NZ’s scientific and industrial research organisation, working as a consultant to business, government and industry on a wide range of strategic and operational problems.
Vicky holds BSc(Hons) and PhD degrees and a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Learning and Teaching. She is certificated in the TOC Thinking Processes, Operations Management and Distribution Management, and an academic Jonah. She is a Fellow of the Operational Research Society (UK) and has held numerous positions with ORSNZ including President, and NZPICS.
She has published widely in books and international journals, co-authored The World of the Theory of Constraints, and the lead chapter on the TOC Thinking Processes in the TOC Handbook, published by McGraw-Hill in 2010, and has given numerous academic and practitioner presentations and workshops. She is leading the team developing the TOC Research Database, has served on the examinations board for TOCICO, and as an editor for the Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, and International Transactions in Operational Research, and for the TOCICO white paper series.