Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Academic Standards for Developing, Implementing, Evaluating, and Improving Information Science and Technology Baccalaureate Degrees

Academic journal article Journal of Information Technology Education

Academic Standards for Developing, Implementing, Evaluating, and Improving Information Science and Technology Baccalaureate Degrees

Article excerpt

Introduction

In 2004, approximately two million individuals with a bachelor's degree worked in the fastest growing information sciences and technology (IST)-related professions. Projection statistics indicate that occupations in the IT field are currently, and will continue to be, amongst the fastest growing through 2014, with an average projected rate of growth of 43% within an eight year period, resulting in approximately 844 thousand new jobs by 2014 (United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005, pp. 75 & 77) as indicated in Table 1.

Despite the dot-com crash and overseas outsourcing, IST employees continue to be in demand. With the leveling-off of the "economic boom in the internet and telecommunications industries" (Commission of Professionals in Science and Technology, 2003, p. 1), positions in fields such as IT security, telecommunications, electronic commerce, electronic government, and other Internet functions continue to grow. "Except for a slight slowdown during 2001-2002, the Internet's growth has been consistently dramatic," which is one factor that supports the employment projections (Schneider, 2006, p. 58). Figure 1 illustrates IT-related professional employment data from 1996 through 2005 and the factors impacting employment. Based on these projections, the demand for skilled workers will increase by an average of 105 thousand per year. Furthermore, as the software and information technology industry continues to mature, the prospects of IST careers will continue to evolve, mutate, and expand (Nathan & Turvey, 2001). In response to the increased demand for educated IST professionals, universities have strived to meet this demand by offering an IST degree program.

The IST undergraduate degree has been described as an interdisciplinary program that evolved and integrates curricula from information science, technology, and organizational behavior degree programs that have established accredited criteria. These programs are computer science and information systems, which are accredited by Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) (2005), library and information sciences, which are accredited by the American Library Association, (2002), computer engineering technology and information engineering technology, which are accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) (2005), and business administration, which is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) (2006) as illustrated in Figure 2: IST Framework and Related Accreditation Organization.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

Successful organizations utilize similar business structures and methods of operation; however, each may vary in the product and/or service provided to meet a specific market niche and gain a competitive advantage. The same holds true with academic institutions and their degree programs. In D. M. Norris and Morrison's text, Mobilizing For Transformation: How Campuses Are Preparing For The Knowledge Age, they refer to such practices as "leveraging the forces for transformation on campus" (1997, p. 1). Thus, program structures and methods of operation from similar technical degree programs were used to develop standards for the IST degree program.

This study identifies national standards for IST baccalaureate programs in the United States based on the practice of using accreditation criteria from similar disciplines as a model for program development (Burkett, 2002). Thus, the premise of this study is that accreditation criteria used for similar technical disciplines could be applied to the IST discipline with some variations.

Therefore, a survey was developed by the researcher based on common program criteria outlined in Appendix A that were gleaned from the accreditation criteria of IST-related degree programs (i.e., AACSB(2006); ALA, (2003); CAC, (2005); TAC, (2005)). The criteria for each of these programs along with the IST specific criteria were compiled into a comprehensive list. …

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