Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Assessing Information Systems and Computer Information Systems Programs from a Balanced Scorecard Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Assessing Information Systems and Computer Information Systems Programs from a Balanced Scorecard Perspective

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

People can interpret and apply assessment guidelines, practices and requirements in many ways. Typically, in academia, educational assessment facilitates program quality improvement and accreditation. In this work, the main motivation is to tackle an assessment process and to present specific assessment models and a set of tools with the framework of process steps, team work, and project based tasks. Moreover, we view this as a way to share and disseminate our work practices, findings, and lessons learned in an assessment task.

For an educational accreditation purpose, a number of criteria and guidelines for assessment are typically mandated by a national or regional accreditation agency such as ABET, AACSB, and SACS, with the main responsibility of maintaining the standards for degree confirmation. An assessment process is not always simple and direct, because there are many factors to consider and evaluate from different perspectives at different levels. However, the assessment of computing and information systems programs and disciplines for an educational accreditation purpose is a procedural-based evaluation process. The academic assessment is accomplished typically at three levels: institution-level (e.g., university), school-level (e.g., school of business, or school of education), and program-level assessment (e.g., information systems program or accounting program).

Although program-level assessment is the focus of this paper, the modeling described here can also be used for institution-level and school-level assessment. In fact, a university may pursue accreditations at all three levels at the same time by applying the same model to satisfy all assessment needs, resulting in improved effectiveness and efficiency. There are several reasons for assessment. They are grouped into three major categories: (i) to satisfy external accreditation requirements at various levels: university, school and program; (ii) to satisfy internal requirements of the university, such as periodic program reviews, etc.; and (iii) to utilize the results internally to improve the programs or for recruiting and marketing purposes.

The goal of this paper is to present and explain a set of robust and comprehensive assessment guidelines for computing and information systems (CIS) fields using a set of models. We designed and implemented a comprehensive assessment methodology for two computing programs (computer information systems and computer science). We started with the mission statements and streamlined the main objectives of the programs. The method includes a comprehensive and solid set of measurable goals and outcomes. In the final, or 'closing the loop' phase, we took the assessment results and applied the recommendations to improve the quality of the programs. We have been using this presented assessment methodology for several years, and it has helped us not only to acquire an educational accreditation but also to improve the quality of our programs from different perspectives. Moreover, this assessment method has simplified the accreditation process of two computing and information systems programs by ABET under the computer information systems (CIS) and computer science (CS) curriculum guidelines.

The more specific objective of this study is threefold: to propose models addressing conceptual foundations and processes required for program assessment, to discuss our experiences that we gained through ABET accreditation in line with the proposed models, and to provide insights to practitioners who are interested in assessing their programs.

The rest of the paper is structured as follows: Section 2 reviews literature on program assessment and a relevant theory background of our proposed assessment models. Drawing upon the theoretical foundation, Section 3 proposes a conceptual model along with a process model to provide specific ideas about how to assess a program. …

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