Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Teaching Information Management to Honors Degree Students: The Information Challenges Approach

Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Teaching Information Management to Honors Degree Students: The Information Challenges Approach

Article excerpt


Information Challenges forms part of the core modules that underpin the final year honors (Hons) component of the BA Business Information Management Degree at Napier University Business School in Edinburgh. A module is an assessed unit of study that is studied over a single semester, which in this case, make up a degree and honors degree course. In relation to employment opportunities, an honors degree sets students apart from those with an ordinary degree. An honors degree can significantly enhance students' career prospects by giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their potential and show initiative, as it tends to stretch the more able students in terms of their intellectual ability, planning ability and independent thought. The honors year also allows the students to develop in-depth knowledge via a dissertation in which they are provided with the opportunity to demonstrate their capability to work independently, set their own goals and develop research skills. Research opportunities to study for a M.Phil./Ph.D. in the United Kingdom specifically stipulate the students must have a good honors degree before they are considered for a research scholarship. In addition, many career opportunities in business and industry, particularly those aimed at working towards managerial posts, also look for students who have attained a good class of honors degree as part of their selection process.

The Scottish Higher Education sector tends to favor a four-year honors degree course and a three-year ordinary degree course as the norm of educational practice. The rationale for such a distinction is historical. However, within the context of the BA (Hons) Business Information Management degree at Napier University Business School, a four-year honors structure is necessitated by the incorporation of an industrial work experience element within the overall course design.

The degree program centers around the idea that information is a major resource of any enterprise and, effectively managed, it can yield significant business benefits both at an operational and a strategic level. The course is underpinned by advances in Information Technology and Information Systems, together with a desire for organizations to achieve and sustain effective Information Management in terms of providing enhanced decision-making, communication and competitive advantage.

The range of modules offered to the students throughout the BA (Hons) Business Information Management degree course are shown in Table 1.

During the first year, students receive grounding in a range of business and information management related subjects as they progress through the degree program. Students can leave the course after the successful completion of year 3 with an ordinary degree in Business Information Management or they can stay on an extra year for an honors degree in Business Information Management.

The profile of an honors degree student ranges from a twenty-one year old to a mature student in the thirties and beyond. The average age tends to be around the mid-late twenties. All the students have gained industrial work experience as part of the 12-week work-based learning module that they take in their degree year. Some of the students have held various positions in industry and commerce before coming to university.

Problems with Teaching Information Management

The challenge in teaching Information Management lies in presenting students with an academically rigorous subject matter that is both practical and relevant to those who will soon be practicing Information Managers. Some of the key areas considered appropriate for teaching on Information Management courses include technology, business and organisational issues (Earl & Skyrme 1992), coupled with significant and relevant transferable skills. However, attaining suitable balance tends to be dependent upon individual course designers' preferences and what the host institution offers rather than the needs of today's Information Managers. …

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