Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

An Approach to Meeting AACSB Assurance of Learning Standards in an IS Core Course

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

An Approach to Meeting AACSB Assurance of Learning Standards in an IS Core Course

Article excerpt


Accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is much sought after by business schools. However, only 35% of four-year undergraduate business programs in the United States have AACSB accreditation. All accredited business schools share a common purpose--to prepare students for professional, societal, and personal lives. However, AACSB recognizes that different business schools may have different missions. As such, schools that intend to obtain or retain AACSB accreditation must develop a clear mission, develop a structured set of processes to set educational goals consistent with its mission, and assess the degree to which students meet these educational goals. A school's achievement of its educational goals is an important consideration for accreditation.

To be accredited, a business school must meet AACSB standards. In 2003, AACSB significantly revised its standards to require a business school seeking to acquire or maintain accreditation to meet standards in three general areas: 1) the Strategic Management Standards verify that the school focuses its resources and efforts toward a defined mission as embodied in a mission statement, 2) the Participants Standards ensure that the school maintains a mix of both student and faculty participants that achieve high quality in the activities that support the school's mission, and 3) the Assurance of Learning Standards (ALS) ensure that the school sets student learning goals, assesses student achievement of these goals, and addresses the disparity between the goals and student achievement ( ).

The most significant change mandated by AACSB is the requirement that schools meet the Assurance of Learning Standards. By introducing ALS, AACSB changed its focus on the business curriculum from an assessment of inputs (i.e., what is taught during the course) to an assessment of outputs (i.e., what the student knows upon completing the course). This change has significantly increased the demands on faculty at institutions seeking to gain or maintain AACSB accreditation. Under the old standards (assessment of inputs), the demands on faculty went little beyond the provision of course syllabi. However, under the new ALS, faculty are required to set learning goals, assess student achievement of these goals, and address areas in which student achievement of goals is deficient. Specifically, AACSB accreditation teams will "evaluate how well the school accomplishes the educational aims at the core of its activities. The learning process is separate from the demonstration that students achieve learning goals." (AACSB-International, 2010, pg. 58) (1).

Assessment of learning goals requires the collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken to improve student learning and development (Palomba and Banta, 1999). Therefore, a school must develop processes that use assessment data to facilitate continuous improvement. As a consequence, faculty must develop formal methods to measure student learning, and, as we describe later, determine how to use learning assessment results to improve their courses.

Typically, undergraduate business programs include one or two Information Systems (IS) courses in the business core. Until recently, IS core course discussions among academics have centered on inputs, notably, course content and delivery (Silver, et al., 1995, Stohr, et al., 1990). Recently, however, there has been some discussion of assessment (Beard, et al., 2008, White, et al., 2008). White et al. (2008) provide a concise but useful overview of different types of assessment, while Beard et al. (2008) describe how soft IS skills can be assessed. Outcome assessment is complicated by the fact that core courses in undergraduate business programs are typically taught by multiple faculty members in a single semester (because of the large number of sections that are usually offered). …

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