This assignment is the final project in an Introduction to Computer Information Systems course that aims to provide students with skills in applications including Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and fundamental knowledge of the concepts that underpin information technology and how these concepts relate to business concerns. It requires students to research an IT topic related to business and, through a number of ‘mini-deliverables,’ to create a final polished PowerPoint and presentation on that topic.
Background and Context
I developed the assignment, Final Research Project: Information Technology/Business Research PowerPoint Presentation, for the course named Introduction to Computer Information Systems. A student will generally take this course during his/her freshman or sophomore year, and this course introduces the student to computer information science and its applications. Accordingly, the aim of this course is to help students develop literacy in the computer and its uses. Furthermore, because this is a required class for all business students, much of the course focuses on business technology.
This assignment is intended as a final project in a semester’s study that aims to provide students with (1) skills in applications including Microsoft Word and PowerPoint; (2) fundamental knowledge of the concepts that underpin information technology and how these concepts relate to business concerns, and (3) improved capabilities within areas such as analytic inquiry, problem solving, information literacy, communication, and understanding diverse perspectives.
It is intended to assess four of the Intellectual Skills in the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) at the Bachelor’s Degree level. Particularly, I have designed this assignment to assess the following Intellectual Skills DQP proficiencies: analytic inquiry, information literacy, engaging diverse perspectives, and communication fluency.
Additionally, in regards to Broad/Integrative Knowledge, the assignment requires students to apply methods of inquiry, make evidence-based arguments, and produce work that integrates concepts from at least two fields (information technology (IT) and business).
The Final Research Project: Information Technology/Business Research PowerPoint Presentation assignment supports and enhances student learning because it requires students to conduct research on an IT topic, related to business, that is of interest to them. Therefore, if a student is particularly interested in a topic covered in class, this provides him/her with an opportunity to dig deeper into the topic. Alternatively, if the student is interested in a topic not covered in class, as long as he/she receives my approval on the topic/thesis, he/she has the opportunity to learn about this topic. Additionally, because the project requires the student to present to the class, his/her classmates will have the opportunity to reap the benefits of the acquired knowledge.
In addition, this final project allows students the opportunity to apply the information literacy skills reviewed throughout the course. Specifically, students are provided with three online videos around the fifth week of class that focus on (1) how to define and develop topics/thesis and keywords for their final project, (2) where to look for sources, and how to evaluate them for credibility, and (3) how to create citations for their final PowerPoint presentation and reference pages. In addition, around the ninth week of class, a Library Research Session is held in class.
A few areas of this project have proved particularly challenging for students. First, they have had difficulty clearly focusing their topics/thesis. This is because they tend to define their thesis incompletely (e.g., parts are missing, are too broad or narrow). Second, they do not include or have difficulty developing correctly formatted in-text and reference page citations. Third, they often use non-scholarly sources.
Therefore, I have evolved the assignment over time to combat the issues described above. For instance, I incorporated a research log requirement, which requires students to document their search strategies. Within this research log, students describe their initial research topic/thesis statement, key search terms, and synonyms/related terms. Next, they document the process they followed as they searched for relevant literature. Finally, they list the sources they selected for use in their PowerPoint and their revised research topic/thesis statement (based on their search results).
Completing the research log not only forces students to think about and document their research processes, it also provides me with a way to measure many of the information literacy competencies that were previously difficult to assess. For example, I can now evaluate whether students are using advanced search strategies and techniques and if they are refining their research question based on the information found.
I have also recently modified this final project by assigning a number of ‘mini-deliverables’ due incrementally before the final PowerPoint and presentation are due. More specifically, students are required to complete the following incremental steps: review three information literacy related videos, attend a Library Research Session, discuss their topic proposal with me and obtain my approval, review preliminary PowerPoint and Research Log with me (not required, but strongly suggested), and submit their research logs.
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