The high school students in Deborah Jarvie’s Systems and Supply Chain Management class are well on their way to being ready for university-level coursework, thanks to the dual credit initiative (DCI) between Lethbridge Collegiate Institute and the University of Lethbridge.
The class was the second DCI course; Liberal Education 1000, offered in the fall semester, was the first. The DCI is currently a pilot program being funded by Alberta Education. The students don’t pay tuition fees but have full access to U of L facilities and resources. The program allows high school students to earn high school and university credits at the same time.
Jarvie has been teaching at the post-secondary level for about 20 years so she wasn’t sure what to expect when she began teaching Grade 11 and 12 students.
“They were such a lovely group of students. They were really eager to participate in everything we did. They dived into their project work like nobody’s business,” she says.
The class incorporated everything from inventory and procurement of materials to facility management and customers and suppliers. Supply chain management looks at all aspects of management, from the raw materials in the ground to the final consumer and, eventually, to recycling.
One of the main objectives of the course was to give students an understanding of the technical aspects of supply chain management and have them apply that understanding to the world around them. They saw theory at work when they took a field trip to Haul-All Equipment Systems, the corporate sponsor for the class. The students toured the manufacturing plant and saw the steps involved in the manufacturing process.
Gerald Rogers, a Grade 12 student, says the trip to Haul-All was a high spot of the course because he could see the principles he learned in the classroom put into action.
“Another highlight of the course for me was learning about the processes involved in creating a product. For tech businesses, a mineral that goes into a computer can start in Africa and end up in the phone in your pocket,” he says.
Like students in any university course, what they took away from the course depended on their interests going in. Megh Patel, a Grade 11 student, took the course because of his interest in business and he knew he would learn a lot in the process.
“I learned just how complex businesses can get when they’re growing and how companies have to work and change their supply chain in order to find success,” says Patel.
“I want to go into politics and I felt like this course would help me. A lot of politicians today don’t really know how business works,” says Anthony Castillo. “This course helped me learn how everything’s not separate; it’s all interconnected.”
Jarvie says the course gave students the opportunity to explore what learning is like at the post-secondary level, where students have to be more self-directed and independent in pursuing coursework.
“There wasn’t a teacher pushing me the whole time. It was more myself — I have to finish this project; I need to meet up with my group. I think it’s a good lesson to get ready for university, to get mentally prepared for the challenge, but I’m really excited for it,” says Paul Dumont, a Grade 11 student.
“High school courses are all so structured and the curriculum is straightforward — this is what you’re going to learn. But in this class, she gives you the textbook, she gives you the discussions in class but then you go through it yourself and you talk about it with your group and you apply it to other things. It makes so much more sense; you can apply it everywhere. It was cool,” says Allie Edwards.
The students recently gave their final presentations in a U of L lecture theatre. The topics included retailing, Coca-Cola’s distribution system, starting a student-focused laptop company, and outsourcing and its effects on manufacturing. In the audience was Don Lacey, a trustee with Lethbridge School District No. 51.
“The dual credit initiative is something that should expand,” says Lacey, adding he expects it will be funded on a more permanent basis in the future, thus allowing post-secondary institutions to develop courses and plan several years ahead.
“Overall, I think it’s a fantastic program. I’m really happy that the University decided to go down this road,” says Jarvie. “I’m thrilled I was able to be a part of it. It was an honour to work with this group of students.”
Edwards says she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the course to other high school students.
“Definitely take it. It was a really good opportunity; it was lots of hard work but I enjoyed it,” she says.