Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Mapping the MIS Curriculum Based on Critical Skills of New Graduates: An Empirical Examination of IT Professionals

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Mapping the MIS Curriculum Based on Critical Skills of New Graduates: An Empirical Examination of IT Professionals

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Information technology (IT) and information system (IS) professionals constitute one of the greatest cadres of knowledge workers in modern organizations today. Knowledge workers in general make up over half the US workforce (Laudon and Laudon, 2007), which include IT professionals such as programmers, systems analysts, database administrators, web designers, and network specialists. The U.S. Department of Labor projects five out of the top twelve occupations expected to grow the fastest between 2004 and 2014 are computer related (U.S. Department of Labor, 2007). Despite the downturn after the dot.com bust, future employment in the IT profession appears vibrant.

The preparation and education of new IT professionals rests primarily with universities (Weber, 2004). In general, both computer science and Management Information Systems or Computer Information Systems (MIS/CIS and hereafter labeled MIS) majors provide new IT professionals, but only MIS integrates IT with business fundamentals and processes (Ehie, 2002). University MIS departments and faculty are responsible for providing a curriculum that effectively prepares future professionals for both first jobs and their subsequent careers (Noll and Wilkins, 2002; Weber, 2004). If the educator's double mandate is to prepare MIS graduates for both their first job and a successful career, then the curriculum must include both fundamentals and technologies, particularly the latest technologies. Fundamental business and IS concepts, theories and principles that underlie IT phenomena prepare graduates for long term employment (Weber, 2004). On the other hand, current technologies frequently provide the basis for first IT jobs (Williams and Pomykalski, 2004). Lightfoot (1999) suggests that choosing between fundamentals and technology, or IT education versus a mere training curriculum, is the real dilemma for curriculum designers. The implication is clear: both must be presented in the major to prepare new graduates for short and long term success. The ability to successfully provide such a curriculum is constrained by a number of important factors, including number of hours available in a college education and the portion dedicated to the business core and the MIS major, number of faculty and their area(s) of expertise, and student quality constraints.

The process of determining what skills employers want is hampered because the IT field is incredibly dynamic. With the rapid changes in technology and its evolvement as a strategic asset in many organizations, keeping up with new trends is critical for IT educators. IT is constantly changing, with shifting job descriptions, shifting industry patterns, greater competition, outsourcing, and rapid globalization, blurring both job requirements and which skills are in demand (Weber, 2004). In part because of the dynamic nature of the field, a growing number of studies report that educators are not doing a good job of preparing future IT workers and new graduates lack the skills necessary to prosper in today's environment (Cappel, 2001/2002; Fang, Lee, and Koh, 2005; Noll and Wilkins, 2002). Others report a widening gap between expected skill sets of graduates and actual skills (Tang, Lee, and Koh, 2000/2001). This suggests a need to frequently evaluate critical skill requirements for new IT workers, and the mandate to effectively teach those skills in the classroom.

This study is structured as follows. First we look at the two approaches researchers have taken, one based on the critical skills new graduates should possess and the other based on an examination of MIS curricula. We present a model of the research process, including constituents involved, methodologies, and their outcomes of critical skills and/or curricula. This study collects data from IT professionals in the field on the critical skills that new MIS graduates should possess, both technical and non-technical. We then take the resulting skills and design a flexible MIS curriculum that promotes these skills in graduates. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.