Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

A Memory Game to Demonstrate the Power of Collaborative Efforts to Improve Team Performance

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

A Memory Game to Demonstrate the Power of Collaborative Efforts to Improve Team Performance

Article excerpt


In industry, most information systems (IS) professionals work in teams to implement solutions to business projects (Bernbom, Lippincott, and Eaton, 1999; Cole, 2011; Glen, 2003; Neufeld and Haggerty, 2001), and a number of collaboration technologies exist to enhance those working relationships (Jung, Schneider, and Valacich, 2010; Karsten, 1999). To prepare students in the IS discipline, many business courses include group projects as an important component of the curriculum (e.g., Dunphy and Whisenand, 2006; Lending, 2010). Some students complain about group projects, noting realistic challenges such as "freeloading" (i.e. non-contributing) team members, scheduling issues, and personality conflicts. There is also a tradeoff for the instructor between reducing the sheer number of assignments to grade and the added stress of moderating the conflicts that inevitably surface. So, why don't we simply eliminate group projects from our curriculum? It would solve many problems. And, students don't seem to value this experiential education we are exposing them to in the classroom. That is not an acceptable response; elimination of team projects perpetuates the complaints of potential employers that new hires lack interpersonal and team skills (Neufeld and Haggerty, 2001). Incorporating diverse perspectives in problem solving activities, and coping with group conflict are necessary skills that are developed through experience (Kroenke, 2012).

Lending and Vician (2012) provided clear and concise guidelines for developing Teaching Tips. This paper has attempted to include the elements posed, providing a useful exercise intended to increase awareness of interpersonal skills developed through collaboration activities along with creating an appreciation for diverse perspectives among peers. As identified in the guidelines, this Teaching Tip relates the exercise back to theoretical foundations of learning styles and collaborative learning techniques. The exercise description contained herein permits instructors to replicate the process, and includes a number of suggested

alternatives for adapting the procedures. Results from past experiences are also explained, showing that the activity has been used several times with varying class sizes and has been "tested in the field" (Lending and Vician, 2012: 15). This paper also incorporates the modifications that the instructor has adopted through evolutionary improvements over the years. Teaching Tips must provide valuable instruction to address learning objectives and provide evidence of improvement from actual observations. The most significant contribution of this Teaching Tip is its innovative solution to important aspects of business professional education, the value of collaboration and diversity.

The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate, in an interesting and enjoyable way, the benefits of collaboration and teamwork. Students tend to retain the valuable lessons learned long after experiencing this lively game in class. The following activity is also easy to implement in any course setting.

1.1 Background

This activity has been administered multiple times to undergraduate students enrolled in the IS/IT Management course at a small, Midwestern university. It is a required course for all business majors, and is usually scheduled in the second or third year of matriculation. The class size averages 25-35 students, and is capped at 45 per section. Two sections are offered each semester, and another section during the summer term if demand is sufficient. Since the instructor of record rotates between the MIS faculty, this activity is not included every time the course is taught. The composition of the class is primarily contemporary, traditional-aged students, and nearly equally balanced among males and females. There are generally 10-15% international students and about the same percentage of non-business majors (e. …

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