Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Use of a Class Exercise to Maximize Student Interest in an Introductory MIS Course

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Use of a Class Exercise to Maximize Student Interest in an Introductory MIS Course

Article excerpt


Students majoring in the College of Business at this University are required to take a course in information systems fundamentals as part of their business core. In a typical course on information systems fundamentals, students are taught about computer hardware, software, data resource management, telecommunications, electronic commerce, e-business systems, decision support systems, developing information systems, and security and ethical challenges of such business systems. While it is generally easy for a faculty member to cover the necessary topics, it has been this instructor's experience that it is considerably difficult for students to see the importance and relevance of a study of information systems for success in a business career.

Why is a study of information systems important for a student majoring in a non-information systems major? Students of non--information systems majors such as Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Management, or Economics have a hard time understanding how a study of information systems will benefit their understanding of businesses and help them in their business careers. Most of them come to the course with the perception that a study of information systems fundamentals may be relevant to Computer Science/ Computer Information Systems/ Management Information Systems majors but has little relevance to a good preparation for a business career. This negative perception makes it immensely difficult for the instructor to motivate the students to put in the effort needed to learn the material at a high level. A class exercise has been developed and used successfully to provide students with a better understanding of the importance and relevance of a study of information systems. Students get a good understanding of the applications of information technology in improving business operations and solving business problems. This, in turn, appears to provide the required impetus to make a serious study of business applications of information technology.

When a class exercise is used, students are engaged in a cognitive activity during part of a class period as opposed to being passive listeners for the entire class period. This strategy is known in the literature as 'active learning'.

Active learning has been widely used in academia and training for a long period of time. Learning becomes active when students use their minds during the learning process. More than two thousand years ago, Confucius suggested that people forget what they hear, but remember what they see and understand what they do. Active learning is thus learning through doing. In Silberman (1995, 1996), several strategies to incorporate active learning in courses and training sessions have been described. Wassermann (1994) confirms the widely held belief that opportunities to engage students actively in analyzing complex situations promotes their habits of logical thinking. Meyers and Jones (1993) believe that active learning helps students to become self-directed life long learners, an ability they will need many times in adjusting to the continuous changes that they are likely to encounter in their work places and society. Babbar (1994) describes the use of active learning in an Operations Management class. The students in this class perceived the activity to be relevant, valuable, and preferable to direct presentation of material in the traditional format. When a macro economics lecture was replaced with an active learning component, student grades in the relevant material was improved (Gremmen & Potters, 1997). Ball (1999) describes successful use of an active learning exercise in a Negotiations class. She suggests that active learning is attractive for students because it is easier for students to focus their attention on something they are doing than on listening to a lecture.

First, I present a discussion about the nature of the course. This is followed by a discussion about the specific class exercise and how it was conducted. …

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