Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

James A. Eison

Keywords

Active Learning, Higher Education, Instrument Development, Signature Pedagogies, Teaching Methods

Abstract

Many universities and colleges have placed increased emphasis on teaching excellence in higher education. Efforts to promote teaching excellence vary from the development of alternative new pedagogies as well as research exploring strategies to improve existing teaching practices. Logically, different disciplines employ different instructional strategies to prepare their graduates with specific skills, knowledge, and attitudes. This study examined the instructional strategies used most frequently in the information systems discipline and was inspired by Shulman's (2005) concept of signature pedagogies - the unique but pervasive ways of teaching within a discipline or profession.

This dissertation reports a national survey of instructional strategies used across the information systems discipline. The study employed a web-based survey of all information systems faculty members in the United States listed in the Association of Information Systems membership directory (695 valid responses were obtained from 2,835 eligible participants, 24.4% response rate). The research used an original questionnaire identifying 52 different instructional strategies to create a profile of commonly employed teaching practices and to identify whether there are identifiable signature pedagogies in the discipline of Information Systems (IS). Data analyses included descriptive statistics, factor analysis of the survey items, and multiple regression of eight independent variables to predict frequency of instructional strategy used. This quantitative study is the first systematic investigation profiling the instructional strategies and signature pedagogies used in the IS discipline.

The results show domination of lecture-based strategies across the information systems discipline. Over 66% of the participants identified lecture as their most frequently used teaching method. Based on the frequency of responses to "Frequently" and "Almost Always/Always", lecture was identified as the most frequently used strategy. The next most commonly employed strategies were interactive lectures (63%), cooperative learning/team-based learning (53%), problem-based learning (53%), whole group discussions (50%), and demonstrations (49%).

Participants were also asked to select their "three most frequently used" strategies to identify potential signature pedagogies. Their responses again identified lectures and interactive lectures as the dominant strategies. Viewing these as generic strategies, the following additional frequently used strategies might point to potential signature pedagogies in the discipline: lab activities, case study, analysis and design project, and whole group discussion. This initial investigation focused exclusively on what Shulman (2005) has identified as the surface structure of the pedagogies. Further studies are recommended to also examine the deep and implicit structures to more definitively identify signature pedagogies in the IS discipline.

The exploratory factor analysis revealed patterns of instructional strategies usage in the IS discipline. Six factors were identified: in-class active learning strategies, highly-structured active learning strategies, online learning strategies, project-based strategies, writing-based strategies, and portfolio strategies. The internal consistency reliability (Cronbach's Alpha) of the six factors ranged from .67 to .87 on each of the factors formed. Composite means of the factors showed that highly-structured active learning strategies and project-based strategies were the two most frequently used groups of instructional strategies groups across the IS discipline.

This study further found that six of eight demographic and course characteristics (i.e., gender, rank, age, course level, delivery format, and class size) were associated significantly with instructional strategies usage depending on both the group of instructional strategies and the type of instructional strategies. Years of prior teaching experience and availability of student assistants were the two non-significant demographic and course characteristics.

This study profiles the teaching practices currently employed in the IS discipline in the United States. Recommendations for future research are described along with suggestions for improving teaching and faculty development initiatives in the IS discipline. Additionally, possibilities for future research both within the IS discipline and across other disciplines are presented.

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