June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.27.1 - 13.27.10
A Course Sequence for Integrating Problem Solving and Critical Thinking in a Hybrid Outcome-Based IS/IT Curriculum
In this paper we propose a curriculum for the information systems (IS) and information technology (IT) fields that follows the ABET criteria and the IS 2002 recommendations. The proposed curriculum is driven by two sets of learning outcomes: the university learning outcomes, which are a set of higher level outcomes and the college learning outcomes which are embedded in all core courses. A course sequence was developed to facilitate student learning of problem solving and programming concepts. The sequence includes courses in problem solving, algorithm design and development, solution modeling and coding. VB.Net, a visual programming environment, was the language of choice to introduce object oriented programming. The master course syllabi for the sequence provide clear details about learning outcomes covered in that course as well as the piece of evidence for that outcome. The master course syllabi with clearly defined learning outcomes can help instructors focus their lessons. The proposed course sequence can help students learn problem solving concepts naturally and facilitate the programming learning process. It is anticipated that such a curriculum will reduce students’ fear of programming and renew their interest in the computing field in general as well as the IS/IT field in particular.
Academic institutions in the US and elsewhere aspire to generate an IS/IT curriculum that can produce graduates with critical skills required by business and government as well as provide the needed general education1. Currently, the IS 2002 recommendations form the blueprint for curriculum development of IS majors2. An important part of the IS curriculum is problem solving and programming. As a matter of fact the IS 2002 recommendations not only acknowledge the importance of problem solving in the curriculum but it requires an embedded approach to introducing problem solving in all core courses. Many students however still encounter difficulties in understanding the concepts of programming. These difficulties become more pronounced when students attempt to use the syntax and semantics of a programming language and develop real world applications.
Colleges and universities worldwide use various approaches to teach problem solving and programming. There is, however, disagreement on how to integrate problem solving and critical thinking in IS/IT courses. In fact only a few IS/IT courses touch upon the topic of problem solving. Furthermore, there is no standard approach to integrating concepts in problem solving as a whole. Most courses which claim to introduce problem solving mainly focus on programming concepts. These courses seem to be challenging to most students and as a consequence, after taking these courses many students change their major. This has created a difficult situation for IT colleges as the number of entering students, particularly females, continues to drop3. Most faculty members believe that the issue lies in choosing the appropriate programming language. This has prompted a number of colleges to focus on the programming languages that need to be
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