Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Enhancing Student Engagement: A Group Case Study Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

Enhancing Student Engagement: A Group Case Study Approach

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The development and implementation of technology solutions and the management of Information Technology projects (Kilamo et al., 2012) is done in teams. Information Systems (IS) professionals must be able to communicate technical issues to non-technical members and organizational issues to technical members in order to bridge the gap between them. They collaborate with individuals having varying backgrounds, work ethics, and personalities while participating in the same set of activities to achieve their common goal. It is important for IS students to experience the dynamics of teamwork and collaboration while preparing for their professional careers. The IS 2010 Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Information Systems (Topi et al., 2010) recommends the use of group work and case studies for discussion and reflection in order to grant students opportunities to work together and identify issues in real-world settings. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) characterizes that a computing program must enable students to attain the ability to analyze a problem; design and evaluate a solution to meet desired needs; use current techniques, skills, and tools necessary for computing practices; and work effectively in teams to accomplish a common goal. The computing education community is continuously seeking innovative ideas, effective tools, and valuable experiences to enable students to work effectively in teams (Kilamo et al., 2012).

Active learning is an instructional method that engages students in the learning process by requiring them to thoughtfully perform meaningful learning activities (Prince, 2004). One form of active learning is cooperative learning, which incorporates a structured form of group work where students pursue common goals while incorporating individual accountability, mutual interdependence, face-to-face interaction, appropriate practice of interpersonal skills, and regular self-assessment of team functioning (Johnson et al., 1998; Prince, 2004). A case-study approach to teaching is one important method that engages students in active collaborative learning. It is based upon a situation or event in the real world (Noblitt et al., 2010; Yadav and Beckerman, 2009) and is experiential by nature, as it allows students to apply theoretical and conceptual knowledge gained from lectures or texts to case problems with which they are unfamiliar (Krain, 2010).

The use of case studies effectively introduces real-world professional practices into the classroom (Towhidnejad et al., 2011b). It enhances students' analytical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and decision-making skills (Backx, 2008; Prince and Felder, 2007; Richardson et al., 2008) while integrating multiple viewpoints, encouraging discussion, and promoting greater understanding of the course material (Kathiresan and Patro, 2013). Students' participation and engagement in solving interesting real-life problems allows them to tie together concepts from different topics or subject areas (Chamany et al., 2008) and provides them motivation for learning (Boubouka et al., 2010; Yadav et al., 2010). Case studies have become an integral part of the pedagogy in various disciplines (Kathiresan and Patro, 2013). There has also been an increased effort in integrating case studies into computing courses (Towhidnejad et al., 2011a). Information Systems educators often use cases published in outlets like Harvard Business Review and Harvard Business Cases, and IS education journals (e.g., Journal of Information System Education) in their courses (see, for example, Austin and Short, 2009; Coutu, 2007; Steenkamp et al., 2013; or Willey and White, 2013). Cases encourage the development of higher-level skills by promoting active learning-by-doing, as compared to the more traditional lecture-based approach (Kruck, 2013).

Many educators perceive case studies to be a time-consuming effort that results in little student interaction (Kathiresan and Patro, 2013). …

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