Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

A Complementary Measure of MIS Program Outcomes: Useful Insights from a Student Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Information Systems Education

A Complementary Measure of MIS Program Outcomes: Useful Insights from a Student Perspective

Article excerpt


Learning assurance programs are designed to assess and improve the quality of student learning. Today, assessing student learning is a critical element in the higher education environment. Mandates and requests for measuring and reporting student learning come from an array of sources, including institutional administrators, boards of regents, and accrediting agencies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Higher Learning Commission. A further complication in these learning assurance requests is the varying level of the learning assessment measures requested--some are at the course level, some at the major level, and some at the degree level.

It is not uncommon for faculty members to feel somewhat perplexed by the various calls for learning assurance measures for courses, majors, and overall degree programs. For example, at our AACSB-accredited College of Business Administration, a multi-faceted assessment program designed primarily to assess our Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration was developed. Our college's Learning Assurance program provides for a systematic, on-going process of collecting and evaluating several assessment measures that are tied to specific learning goals, and provides feedback for revising both the curriculum and the learning assurance program itself. The multiple assessment approaches included are an end-of-program examination, cooperative education evaluations, surveys of graduates and alumni, and course-embedded assessments. This Assurance of Learning program satisfies AACSB requirements (AACSB, 2010). In addition, at our Midwestern comprehensive state university, annual reports summarizing learning assurance measures for core courses and individual majors must be submitted to our university Provost. These reports are oriented toward satisfying requirements set by the state Board of Regents and the Higher Learning Commission.

In response to these initiatives, we have contributed questions that are included in the end-of-program assessment for the entire Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration degree. Given rapidly changing IS technologies, we found it challenging to create questions that reflect "timeless," essential MIS knowledge, appropriate for all business graduates. We also developed a way to measure learning outcomes for the business core course for which we are responsible (Introduction to Information Systems). At the course level, this was not problematic, since specific exam questions pertaining to course learning objectives could be selected for this purpose. The use of exam questions tied to course learning goals is one way to evaluate learning outcomes at the course level.

To measure learning outcomes for our MIS major, we sought a measure or measures that would provide meaningful insight into our students' learning. We were uncomfortable with using an end-of-program examination, since we wanted measures that would be useful and consistent over time, and were concerned about creating an exam that stays relevant in our rapidly changing technical environment.

We also sought measures that are consistent with our college mission statement, which includes, in part, the development of "exceptional professional skills to contribute immediately and confidently." Following that theme, we wanted to find a way to evaluate our students' learning as reflected by their confidence, persistence, and willingness to undertake MIS-related tasks. We believe this is an important indicator of learning, and feel that a student who is confident in his/her ability to "do" MIS work has achieved an important learning outcome from our MIS major. This concept led us to draw from the computer self-efficacy (CSE) construct, which is based in the broader construct of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997), a key concept in social cognitive theory. Prior research has found CSE to be significantly correlated with an individual's willingness to choose and participate in technology-related activities, to expect success in these activities, and to demonstrate persistence and effective coping behaviors when faced with technology related difficulties (Compeau et al. …

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