Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Effective Use of Case Studies in the MIS Capstone Course through Semi-Formal Collaborative Teaching

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Effective Use of Case Studies in the MIS Capstone Course through Semi-Formal Collaborative Teaching

Article excerpt


How can the quality of teaching in the classroom be improved? This question is of central concern to dedicated educators everywhere, resulting in a large body of literature in response. Many techniques for improving the quality of teaching have been proposed, developed, validated, and implemented through the years. Of particular interest in this paper is the technique of using case studies as a primary pedagogical instrument for teaching higher-level concepts in the MIS capstone course.

The authors of this paper are faculty members in the Information Systems and Decision Sciences area. In our discipline, it is not unusual for two or more faculty members to routinely teach the same course, although in different sections, over a number of semesters. Two of us routinely teach the MIS capstone course, alternating semesters. Although we both adhere to a general master course outline, each of us brings our own style, emphasis, techniques, and pedagogy to the class.

Because of our own interest in answering the opening question of this paper, we have been engaged in discussion for many years about what each of us does in the classroom that is particularly effective. As a result, both instructors have placed a greater emphasis on the case study approach to teaching and learning. Each of us maintains an independent approach to how we teach the case studies in our respective classes. However, we continue to search for support that using case studies enhances learning in the course.

This paper provides the theoretical grounding for the development of an instrument that assists us in determining the effectiveness of the case study approach in teaching the higher-level concepts associated with the capstone course. We believe that this research has provided us with substantive results that show the effectiveness of using case studies. In turn, we have used the results of the research to improve our instructional delivery and the quality of instruction in the classroom.

1.1 Collaborative Teaching: A Basis for Improvement

Because two of the authors routinely teach our capstone class, usually rotating semesters, we typically share experiences from the class in an effort to find what works best. We consider this an informal form of collaborative teaching. The structured approach we employ is presented in full later in this section.

Collaborative teaching should be distinguished from collaborative learning. Collaborative learning occurs when two or more students work together, often on a team project. Collaborative learning has long been promoted as an effective classroom methodology by theorists (Vygotsky, 1978). Among the virtues of collaborative learning is that students learn to take advantage of each team member's expertise and to experience first-hand the problems of coordinating a team effort (Goyal, 1995/1996). Studies have shown that collaborative learning leads to a higher degree of satisfaction with the learning process, to a greater motivation to learn, and to better performance (Flynn, 1992). Our experience with collaborative teaching indicates that these virtues also apply to our informal approach to collaborative teaching.

Collaborative teaching is often equated with team teaching, and educators have developed a significant body of research on team teaching. Brabston (1999) offers a typical paradigm for collaborative team teaching. This paradigm proposes three different models for collaborative teaching:

1. The interactive model. Two or more instructors in front of the class at any one time.

2. The rotational model. Each member of the teaching team teaches in only that part of the course related to his or her area of expertise.

3. The participant-observer model. Each team member alternately takes the lead in teaching. The other team member primarily observes but also actively participates when appropriate. …

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