Information Systems Curriculum Research: A Survey of Evidence

Information Systems Curriculum Research: A Survey of Evidence

Kevor Mark-Oliver
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2610-1.ch021
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While information system (IS) curriculum research has enjoyed recent attention from IS scholars, not many reviews exist. Those reviews are either outdated or focused on a particular strand of IS curriculum research which may not be comprehensive. In this chapter, the author presents a systematic review of information systems curriculum research published in information systems journals and selected conference proceedings in the past decade. The results point to many studies on identifying information systems competencies and their implications for curriculum design and delivery. Having observed that many of these issues are discussed at the undergraduate level and predominantly in the USA and UK, this chapter suggests, among others, future research at the graduate level and from other regions.
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The rapid technological change, the need to drive organizational innovation and competitiveness in an ever growing global knowledge economy, makes it imperative that people acquire the relevant 21st century employable skills and skills needed to fully participate in society (van Laar, van Deursen, van Dijk, & de Haan, 2017). Universities across the world have therefore been challenged, through the development of curricula, textbooks and relevant resources for training graduates, to respond to such disruptive environments in the labour market and for sustainable development (Picatoste, Pérez-Ortiz, & Ruesga-Benito, 2018).

Information Systems (IS) education research has gained recognition within the IS community and one prominent strand of research concerns developing and evaluating curriculum guidance for the IS discipline (Topi, 2019). As observed by Kruck et al. (2013), there is an increased awareness that educational issues in the IS discipline are important to both industry and academia. The relevance of the content of IS curriculum and the quality of teaching may address the extant credibility crisis which characterises the IS discipline (Firth et al., 2011). It is therefore not surprising realising an increasing number of journals giving attention to computing and IS education (Kruck et al., 2013) and specific conference tracks on IS education being instituted. One dimension of IS education that is gaining popularity among scholars is IS curriculum research (Mills, Chudoba, & Olsen, 2016; Veltri et al., 2011). Despite its wide use in education and evidence of publications, there are not many comprehensive reviews of the literature on IS curriculum research. Similar literature review has been conducted by Longenecker et al. (2013). Whilst their work is valuable, it is focused on the trends of IS skills over a 50year period relevant to IS curriculum at the undergraduate level, identifying new and retired skills over the period, but does not review other relevant research issues, methodology and theoretical approaches to IS curriculum research. At the same time, it is important to review the literature over the past five years after the work of Longenecker et al. (2013).

The purpose of this paper is to review literature on IS curriculum research by identifying key issues, methodologies, conceptual approaches or theories and suggest relevant gaps for future research. A methodological review of extant literature, such us this, is a crucial endeavour for any academic research (Webster & Watson, 2002). The specific questions of focus in the study are:

  • 1.

    What are the key research issues being studied by IS curriculum researchers?

  • 2.

    What are the theoretical or conceptual approaches used in studying IS curriculum issues?

  • 3.

    What methodological approaches are being used in studying IS curriculum issues?

The rest of the paper is structured as follows: Section two presents a way of classifying IS curriculum research. It is followed by a description of the methodology in Section three. The findings are presented in Section four with a discussion on the key research issues, theoretical/conceptual and methodological approaches presented in Section five. We conclude in Section six by identifying key research gaps and providing suggestions for future research.


Classifying Is Curriculum Research

This study is developed from the perspective of IS being a profession with employment-orientation. Consequently, the study views IS as a “field that prepares students to interface between non-technical organizational employees and managers and very technical IT professionals, with a focus on functions that are unlikely to be offshored” (Westfall, 2012).

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