Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Changing the Introductory Is Course to Improve Future Enrollments: An Irish Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Changing the Introductory Is Course to Improve Future Enrollments: An Irish Perspective

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

There has been a shift in attention over the last several years toward a more focused consideration of the role and impact of undergraduates within the IS field. Much of this is as a result of the challenges facing the IS discipline, a key factor of which is low enrollments (Choudoury 2010; Gill and Bhattacherjee, 2009; Granger et al. 2007; Koch and Kayworth 2009). The effect of low enrollments has been to imperil the viability of IS programs. Around the world IS programs have been folded into other business school programs or shut down entirely (e.g. University of Central Florida, see Weber and Zaragoza 2009). Recognizing the seriousness of this issue, the ICIS 2011 panel session "Are we on the wrong track and so do IS curricula need to be reengineered?" (Gefen et al. 2011), culminated with a call for a better understanding of the practical steps IS academia need to undertake in order to counter the enrollment crisis. This paper is a response to that call.

In looking at the role of undergraduates in the IS field, scholars have addressed issues from a variety of levels of analysis. At a high level of abstraction Firth et al. (2011) look at the credibility of the IS field as a whole, and the role graduate and undergraduate students play. At a more detailed level there has been coverage of more specific issues such as how to recruit students into the major (Downey 2011; Koch et al., 2010; Looney and Akbulut, 2007), pedagogy issues dealing with students (Firth et al., 2008), and the relevance of IS research for undergraduate students (Davidson, 2011). Looking across this growing body of published work, one comes to the conclusion that scholars of all stripes within our field are realizing that undergraduates are a foundational resource for the IS field. Yet, while low IS enrollments is a global issue, almost all of our knowledge on how to address this concern is either from U.S. scholars, or based on findings from U.S. universities even when the publishing journal is not U.S. centric (e.g. Davidson, 2011). To exemplify this regional imbalance, the aforementioned ICIS 2011 panel session consisted of four North Americans and one European. Studies that examine this critical issue in regions beyond the U.S are paramount to addressing the IS enrollment crisis as undergraduate motives may be region specific (Downey 2011). Thus, our paper seeks to expand this important scholarly work out of the U.S. by providing a perspective from an Irish University.

The primary setting for this paper is the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick (UL) in Ireland. While the IS community has offered various strategies for improving IS enrollments, such as revising the curriculum (Apigian and Gambill, 2010; George, Valacich and Valor, 2005; Looney and Akbulut, 2007), and marketing IS careers (Granger et al., 2007; Koch and Hayworth 2009; Kuechler et al. 2009), the focus of this paper is on the introductory IS course. At the Kemmy Business School, as at many schools, the objective of the introductory IS course is to provide students with a broad understanding of the fundamentals and strategic importance of information systems in contemporary organizations. It is also a mandatory course for all students studying business. As such, it provides the first opportunity to influence business students as to the major, or course of study, they are considering (George, Valacich and Valor, 2005; Looney and Akbulut, 2007). Using a set of steps laid out by Firth et al. (2008 "Addressing the IS Enrollment Crisis: A 12-step Program to Bring about Change through the Introductory IS Course") we present evidence of strategies and the successful results thereof at the Kemmy Business School. We compare, contrast and elaborate on the work Firth et al. (2008) produced from a U.S. institution, bringing an international perspective to the issue of changes with the introductory IS course and its impact on student enrollment in future IS courses. …

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