2014 ISECON Proceedings - Abstract Presentation

The Process of Transforming a Microcomputer Usage Course into a General Education Credit Course

Ewuuk Lomo-David
North Carolina A&T State University

Sherrie Cannoy
North Carolina A&T State University

This paper describes the process of transforming a microcomputer usage in business course into a general education requirement option. The microcomputer usage course at this university involves teaching computer concepts and Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint). The students who take the course are generally freshmen and sophomores. General education goals have evolved to include “civic responsibility and social understanding” (Wehlburg, 2010, p. 9). Distinguishing general education and major courses as separate entities “does a disservice to the student” because general education should be integrated into the major curriculum (Wehlburg, 2010, p. 3). This integration can enable the “transfer of learning” so that students gain a richer foundation of knowledge (Wehlburg, 2010, p. 10). Studies have also shown that faculty who teach general education credits utilize methods which emphasize deeper and more reflective learning by students (Laird & Garver, 2010). Several studies have specifically addressed general education in the computing field (Cutts et al, 2011, Dierbach et al, 2011, Williams, 2011) The motivation to pursue a general education credit was to incorporate general education topics into the course within the business context, which would provide a broader background for students to apply their skills. Another reason to go through the process was to provide a larger population of students with an introduction to these software packages. The general education class credits are approved by the Faculty Senate curriculum committee. Classes proposed as general education credits must have documented components that measure specific objectives in a chosen cluster. The general education components and how they are assessed should be clearly outlined in the course syllabus. The cluster that fit closely for the microcomputer usage course was Social and Behavioral Sciences. An integrated portfolio project was developed to measure students’ knowledge in applying computer skills to topics in the social and behavioral sciences area. The integrated project consists of individual projects such as creating a report in Word, manipulating and creating spreadsheets in Excel, creating a new database in Access, and developing a PowerPoint presentation. A theme which relates to both social and behavioral sciences and business is given to the students and each of these projects incorporates the same theme. For example, the theme may be about microfinance to help third-world entrepreneurs. The Word report would describe microfinance as well as information about entrepreneurs in third-world countries from a microfinance site such as Kiva. The Excel sheets would report data about microfinance, entrepreneurship, or related data such as the poverty rate in countries around the world. The database would manipulate data about microfinance loans and about the entrepreneurs, and the PowerPoint presentation would describe what the student has learned about microfinance through the projects. Since there are multiple sections of the microcomputer usage class, a standard rubric was created to measure both the application of computer skills for each software package and how well the students incorporated the content from the social and behavioral sciences area. The assessment data is reported each semester to the university for reaccreditation purposes.

Recommended Citation: Lomo-David, E., Cannoy, S., (2014). The Process of Transforming a Microcomputer Usage Course into a General Education Credit Course . The Proceedings of the Information Systems Education Conference, v.31 n.3192, Baltimore, Maryland