Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

A Perspective on a Management Information Systems (MIS) Program Review

Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

A Perspective on a Management Information Systems (MIS) Program Review

Article excerpt

Introduction

Periodic program reviews are important for a continuous curriculum improvement initiative. Colleges or schools seeking accreditation or re-accreditation from various establishments go through a process of analyzing and reporting information that testify to the quality of their programs. This process usually requires a comprehensive evaluation of programs that is effort-intensive for faculty and administrators. In most cases, a successful accreditation is the result of effective, continuous improvement program activities that have been implemented and documented for the reporting period.

The program review for the case highlighted in this paper focuses on the first periodic review for the MIS program. The University of North Carolina system academic planning process policy requires progress reporting for new programs at its 1st to 2nd year and 3rd to 4th year of operation (University of North Carolina, 2003). Such reporting requirement provides rationale for decisions to allocate limited funds to support productive academic programs.

In this case, the program review directive from the Dean provides for a faculty initiative in program improvement. An expected process outcome is that a consistent view of a program direction among faculty members could lead to a more synergistic continuous improvement effort in curriculum development. Such potential benefit is subject to group dynamics within the structural and contextual dimensions of the academic unit.

The MIS program review in this small regional southeastern university was initiated based on several concerns. The MIS program in question is an undergraduate program that has evolved from a concentration program within the Business Administration degree program in the Management department. The program review occurred at its second year of operation and a few months after the School of Business had completed a successful review process for the AACSB accreditation of its programs. Faculty and administrator concerns for the MIS major program were: a lack of technical skill emphasis in course content, employment marketability of graduates, and enrollment of majors in the program. During the review process, the first two concerns became a single concern when a junior faculty member viewed programming skills as the key to job marketability for our graduates.

The program review effort was a new experience for six MIS faculty members and the chair of the department. The process evolved from an initial focus on MIS graduates getting jobs in the IT industry. Tasks assigned to faculty were to look for job positions in IT and to identify knowledge and skill competencies suitable for our graduates. This effort resulted in divergent thinking on jobs deemed suitable for our graduates.

The discussion on MIS program review in this paper will be organized in the following sequence: a review of existing literature on IS/IT job skills and IT industry trends, an overview of the program review process, IS-IT program orientation, alignment of program with job market, and conclusions about the process.

Literature Review

Literature identified to be relevant for the purpose of this program review can be broadly categorized as: 1) industry expectations of MIS graduates, and 2) IT job outlook and trends.

Industry Expectations

Trauth, Farwell, and Lee (1993) focused on the perception gap between industry participants' and IS professors' perceptions of important IT knowledge/skills in the New England region. Their study concluded that, while knowledge/skills in three areas--1) technology and applications integration, 2) business processes, and 3) interpersonal skills--are perceived to be important by IS professionals, they were not emphasized in IS curricula. Trauth et al. suggested that the lack of rewards in curriculum development coupled with campus recruitment criteria that favored technical skills over soft skills might be the reasons for the expectation gap between the needs of the industry and the programs that prepare majors to meet employers' needs. …

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