Information Quality: The Relationship to Recruitment in Pre-Tertiary IT Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

"As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information." Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

The decisions that pre-tertiary students make regarding their future study and career paths will subsequently affect their place in society as well as their earning capacity. When making these choices, it is important for the students to be well informed and receive quality information within the pre-tertiary curriculum regarding IT career opportunities. There is a chronic shortage of skilled Information Technology (IT) staff, as well as constant changes in the skill mix required in the industry (Newmarch, Taylor-Steele & Cumpston, 2000; Trauth, 2002; Young, 2002). "A paradox--especially in advanced nations--is that the IT sector that builds, maintains, empowers and enhances the infrastructure and applications is finding it hard to fill the jobs it creates" (Multimedia-Victoria, 2001). Moreover, the number of students choosing to undertake higher studies in IT is not growing at the same rate as with other degree or study programs (Beekhuyzen, Nielsen & von Hellens, 2003; Gurer & Camp, 2002).

This study will be of an interpretive nature and uses an anti-positive epistemology and ideographic methodology to explore the quality of, and subsequent satisfaction with, curriculum and career guidance information provided to pre-tertiary students. It seeks to answer the question 'What is the relationship that curriculum and career guidance information quality in pre-tertiary education has to recruitment to tertiary IT education?' A review of literature concerning Information Systems (IS) success, in particular, information quality and User Information Satisfaction (UIS), is performed. A case study is then used to explore the complexity of the topic and draw insights into the effect of information quality on tertiary IT education enrolment.

In the context of this study, the definition of an IS has been derived from two previous classic definitions by Ives, Hamilton and Davis (1980) and Keen (1980) and is as follows. An IS is the study of the problems of effective and ethical design and implementation of systems and the influences and impacts that they have in organizational, societal and individual contexts. This IS "creates information which is communicated to the recipient who is then influenced (or not!) by the information" (DeLone & McLean, 1992).

Quality is a difficult to define, "complex and multifaceted concept" (Garvin, 1984). In Garvin's (1984) user-based definition of quality, individuals have different wants and needs, and it is believed that quality "lies in the eyes of the beholder". It is this highly subjective user-based quality view that will be taken within this paper. According to Vandenbosch and Higgins (1995), there is a strong relationship between quality and use or success and "it would appear that the higher the quality of the system, the greater the possibility that it will promote learning". Information quality can be studied for the desired characteristics such as accuracy, meaningfulness and timeliness (DeLone & McLean, 1992). Subsequently, UIS is a perceptual or subjective measure of "the extent to which users believe the information system available to them meets their information requirements" (Ives, Olson & Baroudi, 1983).

This paper provides an overview of relevant literature related to IS quality and recruitment of pretertiary IT students in the Information Systems Quality Section. In the following section, the research design and setting for this study is then outlined and justified. A presentation and discussion of the findings of this exploration follows in the Findings Section. The article concludes with a summary of the relationship of information quality to recruitment of pre-tertiary IT students and future directions for research.

Information Systems Quality

According to Swanson (1997), "IS are socio-technical processes involving both humans and machines (computers)" and "they become organizationally embedded in their use". …