Adressing the Gap Between Employers' Needs and Learning Objectives in Purchasing & Supply Management Study Programs: Towards a Student-Centered Learning Approach

Klaas Stek, Bernd Markus Zunk, Laura Berger, Hans van den Berg, Vincent Delke, Holger Schiele

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


This paper focusses on effective teaching and learning methods in the context of a larger project that aims to align objectives in higher education with employer requirements in the field of purchasing and supply management (PSM). The reason is that little is known about which specific skills and competencies of PSM professionals are needed outside academia and which learning objective higher education should incorporate to meet the practical PSM requirements of firms and organisations. Practice as well as literature share the understanding that PSM professionals need a well-balanced mixture of knowledge and soft-skills: the merely explicit know-what (codified knowledge), know-why (theory), know-how (method) and inter- & intrapersonal soft skills. Traditionally, universities use teacher-centred learning (TCL) for ‘transferring’ knowledge and theory. The lecturer has a strong central and active role and the student has an attending, inactive role. Many educators wrongly suppose that they are ‘transferring’ their knowledge effectively by frontal instruction. In fact, students must construct information to own knowledge in their brains. There is evidence that such an inactive role has the lowest effect on retaining knowledge. A more effective alternative is student-centred learning (SCL) that aims to activate students. To address both abovementioned problems of closing the gap between practice and education and finding effective teaching and learning methods, in an earlier stage the underlying European Erasmus+ research project (project PERFECT) first mapped the requirements of firms and organisations. In the second stage, the requirements were translated to learning objectives in modules for a PSM curriculum in higher education and were finally tested in the third stage in an international teaching and learning event in order to get feedback from students evaluating the used teaching and learning methods. The focus of this paper is on the third stage: the student evaluation on preferred teaching and learning methods. For the testing, the first module of the newly designed curriculum, an introduction to PSM, was used in an international two-day teaching and learning event that was organised with 20 students from 11 different nationalities, and 5 lecturers plus a guest speaker from 4 different nationalities. The introductory module was presented in 6 lectures in which students were encouraged to take an active role in their learning process by working out cases, by discussing and working in groups, by interactive learning, and by an interactive presentation of a practitioner. At the end of the 2nd day, the students were invited to fill out an evaluation form with eleven questions: 8 statements on a 5-point Likert scale (fully agree to fully disagree) and 3 open questions. An aim of this teaching and learning event was to validate the necessity of SCL teaching methods in the lectures by student evaluation. The students evaluated the following SCL methods as most helpful: interactive learning, case studies, practitioners’ stories, group work, followed by the more TCL: PowerPoint presentations and finally video’s in the lecture. This makes evident, that the outlined SCL model, could be a teaching method that is preferable for teaching PSM at university incorporating the need of teaching knowledge and soft-skills in order to fill the existing gap between the needs in practice and existing study programs in academia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 12th Annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED)
Subtitle of host publicationRethinking Learning in a Connected Age
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2018
Event12th INTED (International Technology, Education and Development) Annual Conference: INTED2018 - Valencia, Spain
Duration: 5 Mar 20187 Mar 2018


Conference12th INTED (International Technology, Education and Development) Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleINTED 2018
Internet address


  • Purchasing
  • Study Programs
  • Student-Centered Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation

Fields of Expertise

  • Sonstiges


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