Empirical Study of Exporting a University Curriculum: Is It Successful, Is It Profitable, and Is Student Learning Effective?

Empirical Study of Exporting a University Curriculum: Is It Successful, Is It Profitable, and Is Student Learning Effective?

DOI: 10.4018/IJCDLM.318120
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Amidst unethical behavior scandals surrounding admissions and profit strategies of Western universities, stakeholders must wonder if exporting an American curriculum into developing nations will result in effective domestic student learning. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic interjected an additional unexpected constraint for higher education stakeholders, particularly for practitioners who were forced to move complex lab-based information system (IS) programming courses online for students in developing nations. The research question examined in this study was, would learning be effective in an American-African university partnership involving IS bachelor degree courses taught online to undergraduate African students during the pandemic? Hypotheses were developed from the peer-reviewed scholarly literature and tested using inferential statistics. Three pedagogy factors—design content, active engagement, and vocational motivation—along with demographic and experimental control factors were regressed on student learning using parametric statistical techniques.
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The authors conducted this study to address four research issues. First, the authors allege student learning may not be effective in information system (IS) bachelor degree courses because universities seeking to expand from western countries into developing nations may overlook student concerns in their quest for profits. The authors argue that student learning effectiveness, not profits, ought to be the central focus of stakeholders responsible for procuring cross-border online university products, particularly in vulnerable developing nations.

Second, the authors assert that student learning should be the main concern of a university (along with safety) even during a pandemic (i.e. the COVID-19 coronavirus), especially if the teaching platform shifts from a lab-based face-to-face context into a virtual online environment. Third, the authors assert higher education decision-makers, such as accreditation peer reviewers and students, must ask for proof of learning effectiveness when western profit-oriented universities with underlying market expansion strategies attempt to peddle their products into continental Africa’s developing nations. Higher education professionals ought to sustain an ethical responsibility to at least ask if developing-nation student learning interests would be served by American profit-driven universities. Fourth, the authors found a gap in the literature, as there were minimal empirical studies measuring the learning effectiveness of cross-border university higher education partnerships, particularly with big American universities implementing IS degrees into African-based universities.

The above four controversial issues were explored in this empirical study where the authors examined student online learning effectiveness in an American-African university partnership involving IS bachelor degree courses taught online during the 2020 pandemic. Although the authors started this project with a research question predicated upon testing student learning effectiveness for information system (IS) degree courses in an American-African university partnership, the authors expanded this to address being forced to move the delivery of complex lab-based instruction online due to the pandemic. One challenge clearly highlighted in the literature was that teaching modern IS courses online is more difficult as compared to teaching the material in a classroom or lab (Strang & Vajjhala, 2017; Tsai, 2019). Thus, the authors were concerned if the IS bachelor degree courses were too difficult to teach effectively online, especially to developing-nation students. The authors' concern was that the challenge of teaching modern IS courses online was in addition to the difficulty of implementing an American-style IS curriculum into an African college.

The theoretical rationale underlying the authors' research was that the authors asserted cross-border higher education partnership models may face a challenge because of social culture, language, and learning style differences between the market leaders based in the UK, Australia, and the USA as contrasted with targeted developing-nation populations (Arnolda & Versluis, 2019; Strang, 2017; Ifeanyi et al., 2018; BC, 2020). In addition to the sociocultural differences between American versus African university populations, several recent studies have highlighted macro-economic restraints in some African countries including Boko Haram terrorism, government corruption, agriculture food insecurity, and other problems (Che et al., 2020; Chitiga, Kaniuka, & Ombonga, 2019; Ifeanyi, Irene, Justina, & Virginus, 2018; Kursh & Gold, 2016; Ortiz, Franco, Garau, & Herrero, 2017; Miliä, Vlajiä, Antoviä, Saviä, Stanojeviä, & Lazareviä, 2017; Strang & Vajjhala, 2017; Tsai, 2019; Ullah, Lajis, Jamjoom, Altalhi, Ghamdi, & Saleem, 2018; Yassine, Chenouni, Berrada, & Tahiri, 2017).

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