COOPERATIVE LEARNING METHODOLOGIES FOR THE INTRODUCTION TO THE MANAGEMENT OF THE FIRM’S INFORMATION SYSTEMS
This paper presents a project to improve the learning in the subjects related to the management of the firm’s information systems at the Universitat Jaume I of Castelló. These subjects, introduced in different degrees, are aimed at teaching the basic knowledge about the information systems, their functions in the firm and main tools.
Teachers in these subjects adopted different learning methodologies for the development of the practical sessions (50% of the subject) in order to encourage interaction, debate and critical reflection on the use and importance of these information systems and tools for business management. These methodologies embrace the role playing, case studies, project-based and problem solving learning, and are carried out through teamwork and cooperative learning.
Specifically, the development of these practices begins with the teacher presentation of the case of a firm (different each year) with specific information management needs. Students grouped in teams of 4 to 6 members, should perform the role of junior consultants for this introduced company and develop a database that meets the firm’s specific needs of information management, storage and analysis. To this end, students will learn to how to use and apply the information and communication technologies (TIC) and, specifically, the database management system of Microsoft Access.
In order to provide the groups with the knowledge and competences needed for developing their database proposal, teachers introduce a serie of practical sessions on the database creation through Microsoft Access. Students learn how to create tables, queries, forms, reports, macros and modules -the main components in a database- through a real example introduced by the teacher, based on the creation of a database for the students, their subjects and marks. Furthermore, teachers have tried to reinforce the students learning by developing a basic manual called ‘Databases for information systems management in the firm’ published in the Sapientia collection of the Universitat Jaume I.
The group performance is progressively evaluated by weekly monitoring the project development in tutorial classes. At the end of the practical sessions all the groups should oral defense their database prototype in front of the rest of the class, simulating the presentation of their solution as consultants to the end customer, that is to the firm with management needs. In addition, these students should submit a report to the teacher that assesses both the functional and technical approach of their group proposal, and that justifies its validity and reliability for the information management and analysis of the specific business case presented by the teacher.
The use of different learning methodologies generates a progressive introduction to the management and application of information systems in the different functional areas of the firm. Confronting students with the complexity of real business problems, increases their motivation, and encourages reflection, discussion, and teamwork, basic values and competences for businesses in current competitive arenas.