Management Information Systems

 

Cura Personalis: Understanding students' use of online social networks to enhance learning

Thilini Ariyachandra, Ph.D.
Mentor: Nancy Bertaux, Ph.D.

As an educator in a Jesuit institution, one of the major features of Jesuit spirituality that I have come to value through the Ignatian Mentoring Program is the concept of cura personalis. When teaching my courses, especially the INFO 200: Managing Information Technology course, I know that building a personal relationship with each student, providing individualized attention to their needs and by having a distinct respect for his or her unique wants and concerns, I am better able to help them learn. In so doing, I believe I am able to more effectively communicate and help them understand the value and use of information technology.

As an instructor in management information systems, it is important to understand how students use technology to enhance their lives. At present, online social networking is rapidly growing in popularity across the world; especially among college students. Currently research indicates that college students have incorporated online social networks to almost every aspect of their lives.

Given the interest and growing use of online social networking by undergraduates, the goal of my Ignatian mentoring program study was to understand what influences students use of social networking websites. By so doing, as an instructor, I could better understand their motivation for the use of this new technological phenomenon and be able to incorporate it into the class room to enhance learning. In addition, as a researcher, this study would help me investigate the use of a popular new phenomenon in information systems, online social networking. I am grateful for this rewarding opportunity to think about and work collaboratively with my IMP mentor, economist Nancy Bertaux, on an interdisciplinary research topic that is both related strongly to my discipline and that relates to the care and concern (cura personalis) I have for my students.

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Reflection in an Online Management Information Systems Course

Elaine Crable, Ph.D.
Mission Academy Participant

Course Information -- INFO600 Information Technology Management
Information Technology Management is an examination of systems and technology involved in the production of goods and the delivery of services. The predominant focus is on the manager's use of information and technology to influence the design, operation and control of systems in order to enhance competitive advantage. Topics covered in this MBA course include analysis of current information systems, identification and assessment of an organization's strategic use of information systems and future trends of information technology development. This course explores business processes and information systems; it is highly integrative and draws heavily from other functional areas in business.

Ignatian Paradigm and Reflection
Ignatian pedagogy is based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. The 1993 monograph, Ignatian Pedagogy: A Practical Approach (Jesuit Secondary Education Association (JSEA)) describes this Ignatian pedagogical vision and provides a process for delivering education in an Ignatian tradition.

Distinguishing features of Jesuit education as described in this document are:

  • Cura personalis
  • Value focused
  • Pursuit of Excellence in study
  • Encouragement of life-long learning
  • Inspired by Faith but profoundly human focused
  • Eclectic in methodology

This monograph on Ignatian pedagogy emphasizes the importance of how an instructor relates to students, conceives of learning, and engages students in the quest for truth. It further underscores the importance of a teacher's own integrity and vision in the formative process of student growth. Five key components comprise the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm: context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation (JSEA, 1993). The three central components to be emphasized are experience, reflection, and action. These three processes in particular are considered integral parts of the paradigm and help develop the critical thinking, understanding, application, synthesis, analysis and finally the commitment in regards to the learning process. The instructor needs to help the student see how to involve the whole person, mind and spirit. My focus in the Mission Academy project was specifically on the use of reflection in my MBA MIS course.

Reflection is "a thoughtful reconsideration of some subject matter, experience, idea, purpose or spontaneous reaction, in order to grasp its significance more fully" (JSEA, 2000, Sec 49). Students should be guided to understand the truth being studied more clearly, and understand any conflicts within themselves when learning new material and notice what moves them with any new experience. Reflection can be an even more meaningful experience if shared. Students and instructors should share their thoughts in order to broaden their own personal experiences. A shared reflection can provide an opportunity of growth for all those involved.

Course Reflection Assignment
Intellectual activities can evoke affective qualities such as pleasure, indignation, insecurity, etc. These personal reactions affect one's determination to act or to avoid an action. A challenge to an instructor is to formulate questions that will broaden the students' awareness and assist them to appreciate other viewpoints. The instructor must not impose personal viewpoints but rather draw those thoughts from the students and encourage others to share their reflections which can result in a feeling of community. Shared reflections can reinforce, challenge, encourage reevaluation, and ultimately give greater guarantee that the action to be taken is one that will be for "men and women for others." Having a weekly reflection blog for the purpose of exploring class topics encourages this evaluation process.

Reflection can draw meaning and value from experience by:

  • Developing predictions about what will work
  • Locating source of feelings and reactions
  • Exploring implications for oneself and others
  • Making explicit what is implicit and assumed
  • Seeking truth behind events and ideas

In my syllabus I have the following description for the Reflection assignment:

T. S. Elliot said "without reflection...we have the experience but miss the meaning."

A critically important aspect of Jesuit education is the introduction of reflection as an essential dynamic for learning to be a critical thinker. For centuries, education was assumed to consist primarily of accumulated knowledge gained from lectures and demonstrations. Teaching followed a primitive model of communication in which information and knowledge were transferred from instructor to learner. Students would experience a presented lesson and the teacher would call for subsequent action on the part of students where they then would demonstrate, frequently reciting from memory, what was communicated to indicate that it had been successfully absorbed. While research over the past two decades has proven time and again, study after study, that effective learning occurs through the interaction of the learner with experience, much of teaching continues to be limited to a two-step instructional model of EXPERIENCE--ACTION, many times missing the critical learning piece of REFLECTION. With the addition of REFLECTION students are pushed to consider the human meaning and significance of what they study and to integrate that meaning as responsible learners who grow as persons of competence, conscience and compassion.
In our class you will submit REFLECTION statements during the term for the purpose of reevaluating the past weeks' topics. You are to submit three to four paragraphs of what you believe were the key learning points and how these relate to you or your work environment. What did you learn? What was missing from the lessons? What are you doing with what you are learning? Who are you becoming from this learning experience?

Some Extracts of Student Comments from the Reflection Exercise:

  • In reflecting on my first internet class experience and the ease with which communication occurred, I wonder how many companies are using these same capabilities. Are companies electing to reduce travel expenses by holding meetings online versus in person? While it is still important to be face-to-face for many client meetings I think that companies should look to increase their use of the internet for meetings between their own divisions and different locations. In addition to online meeting resources as a time and money saver I am also going to implement remote access software at my company. For many troubleshooting issues, this option will allow our technical team to service clients more quickly, increasing customer satisfaction and eliminating the expense of travel.
  • In terms of the case studies, I think the one I found most interesting was the Harrah's study. Not only was I able to get my individual presentation idea from this, I think this is something that my company could look into a little more in terms of getting more loyalty from customers, especially with the ever-changing market conditions, economical strategies and overall globalization. This is something that could be further leveraged by a lot of companies and hopefully my company will also look into this.
  • The current event issues presented each week have been my favorite part of the course the past two weeks. There were many topics discussed that I had little or no knowledge of and I learned a lot from these presentations. Additionally, I liked how it gave each student the opportunity to make a virtual presentation in a way most of us had never done before. I thought that when I made my current event presentation I wouldn't be nervous at all because I wouldn't be able to see anyone. However, when it was my turn to present on the first day of class, I was surprised that I was VERY nervous. I realized everyone might be listening more carefully to what I was saying since they couldn't see me, so I didn't want to make any mistakes. Making a presentation in this way was unlike anything I have ever done before and I'm glad that I was given this opportunity, since I will eventually have to do virtual presentations in my organization.
  • Frankly, with my busy lifestyle (kids, wife, work, and school), I don't have much time to blog so it took me a while to get used to it. This class definitely challenged me and for once in the MBA program, I felt "disadvantaged" since I knew my younger classmates were more comfortable using the technology. Now I know how my older co-workers feel when new BI tools are introduced and they are not comfortable using them at the beginning. I will be more empathetic in the future.
  • I wrote my research paper this week. I had not written a paper for quite a long time, so it was fun to do research and look through my topic (which is GPS usage). I had a funny moment when I looked through my old MLA style handbook and there were no guidelines on how to cite an entry for a web page. Younger folks just out of undergrad would laugh, but I really saw how differently research is done today. When I was in undergrad I spent hours going to and from the library looking up sources and discarding them. For this paper, I still spent 4 hours or so doing research, but I did it with ease, browsing articles and websites and doing this in the comfort of my own home rather than the library itself.
  • Based on this experience, I learned 3 main things. First, I need to stay more in-touch with new technology to ensure that I keep growing my skill sets and stay current and competitive with my co-workers. Secondly, I learned to be more patient and understanding with my older co-workers who may not be as comfortable using the technology tools as I am and continue to teach them how to use them. Thirdly, I learned more about how IT interacts in our daily work lives to improve our productivity, security, and overall connectivity with our co-workers.
  • Wow...me... blogging??? Even if only in a limited setting, this is a surprise! I like to read blogs but am not one to exert effort in responding or posting my own thoughts. "Exerting effort" is an appropriate description. I am not a writer. Writing is not easy for me and I struggle at it. Yet I still daydream sometimes of doing something like blogging or even keeping a journal. This would really help in capturing those special moments I want to remember.
  • Since enrolling in this class, I have found myself more proactive in being an early adopter of the e-tools deployed at work. I've found many of the class topics interesting enough to discuss with my wife after class, and I've enjoyed showing her a few of the videos shared during class; we've both enjoyed the discussion, especially the amazing growth of social media and mobile devices .
  • At Xavier University, the Jesuit value of community maintains that courses are taken in person and that active participation play a critical role in the classroom. I wondered how an online course would maintain the XU values let alone my thirst for education. As I took a look at the syllabus, I was shocked to see the volume of work required and I instantly thought for a day, "Drop!" But I didn't. And, academically, it has made all the difference. Reading case after case, and having fun actually participating comments of value where in a real classroom I would have raised a comment just to comment. Here I appreciated the input of others who gave me the feedback to do something that I have been struggling with for quite a long time.

Instructor Reflection
I discovered that adding the Blog/Reflection exercise to my classes was a beneficial activity for not only students but for me as well. This assignment forced the students to stop and think about the course content, the online experience and how these experiences can relate to business. They reflected on the content of the course and topics that they could take back to their work environment. Overall, I was very pleased with how seriously they took this assignment and as noted in the student reflection excerpts the students found value in different aspects of the course. As an instructor, I grew from the experience because I learned what the students valued within the course. I realized what content and delivery aspects of the online course that students valued. Ignatius clearly understood that lasting learning can only happen when one takes time to think and reflect on an experience and where it can take them. This holds true through today....a timeless concept.

Reference
Jesuit Secondary Education Association (JSEA). (1993) Ignatian Pedagogy Practical Approach. Originally published as a monograph: Reprinted as Appendix B in The Jesuit Ratio Studiorum of 1599: 400th Anniversary Perspectives.

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Ethics in Business Data Mining

Greg Smith, Ph.D.
Mentor: David Burns, DBA (Marketing)

For the Spring 2007 semester, I was asked to teach an introductory course in data mining for undergraduate business majors (INFO329/MKTG329 Data Mining).  This was the second time a data mining course was included in the curriculum, but the first time in three years.  The challenge was designing a course that provided both practical applications and ethical considerations.  The course introduced students, for the first time, to emerging techniques that are ethically neutral, but potentially harmful when humans are left to the design.

What Is Data Mining?
For purposes of an introductory data mining class, data mining is the employment of machine learning to analyze data from many different perspectives and the summarization of the relationships identified.  For business purposes, this information is to be used to improve overall business performance. 
We see the wonderful results of data mining everyday.  But, as helpful as data mining can be in improving our lives (i.e. better shopping experiences, election coverage, Google, etc.), it can have the opposite effect if mishandled or used in a harmful way (i.e. spam, junk mail, pop-up ads, etc.).

Course Vision
My vision of this course was to present and discuss data mining technologies and their applications in an effort to better support business decisions.  I allotted time at the end of the term for ethical considerations to the practice through readings, lecture, and discussion.
Upon completion of this course, my hope was that students were able to:

  • Understand popular data mining techniques, how to apply them, and when they are applicable
  • Utilize a state-of-the-art commercial data mining package
  • Apply popular data mining techniques to solve "real-world" problems
  • Recognize the ethical and social impacts of data mining on our society.

Original Course Ethics Component
The original course component covered one class period

Readings
The course reading on ethical data mining was drawn directly from our class text
and briefly covered two aspects:

  • The hazards of data mining, specifically governmental uses and misuses primarily since September 11, 2001,
  • Web based data mining issues.

Lecture
The lecture component tied together ethical issues of data mining business applications.  Several "real-world" examples of socially responsible and irresponsible data mining were presented along with the tools used to develop the new knowledge.

Discussion
The discussion focused on how to be socially aware and responsible data miners who are attuned to the effects of data mining on our daily lives.

Redesigned Course Ethics Component
While the original course ethics component was a vital piece, I found my approach insufficient.  I thought it necessary to strengthen the component with additional student-centric content for the following year's section.  So, to enable the change for the Spring 2008 semester, I surveyed an undergraduate section of business statistics, similar in student demographic characteristics to those in an undergraduate data mining class, about their views on data mining ethics from a shopper's perspective on easily recognizable topics.  Through conversations with David Burns, I designed a short online questionnaire.  The following is a sample of survey questions.

Shopper Cards
Do you use a store shopper card for discounts, such as a grocery plus card?
a) If so, did you read the user agreement?
b) Are you aware of how your store transaction data is being used?

  • Do you know if personal information (including: who you are, what you buy, etc.) is being "sold"?

Online

  • Have you ever purchased anything from Amazon.com?
    a) If so, did you read the user agreement?
    b) Have you taken advantage of their personalized suggestions?
  • Have you ever filled out a web form (online form) of any sort to gain access to information you needed (online newspapers, free downloads, websites such as Myspace, etc.)?
  • If so, did you read the user agreement?
  • Have you recommended other individuals to this site?

My intent was to draw basic feelings, knowledge, and current practices of students when using services designed for data mining to improve the ethics component.
As with the original course ethics component, I allotted time at the end of the term for redesigned component.  The redesigned component stretched over a week of class and allowed for a natural wrap-up of the course.

Readings
In addition to content drawn directly from our class text, I was able to assign suitable readings for the component that included practical pieces tailored to student consumers. 

Lecture
The revised lecture continued to tie together ethical issues of "real-world" data mining business applications.  In addition, I invited guest speakers from dunnhumby, inc. to present on their company, its vision and practice, and the considerations that it has for consumers in the United States and around the world.  The experience added depth to students' knowledge base and exposed them to current applications and social limitations of data mining. 

Discussion
The revised discussion expanded the view of socially responsible data mining.  In addition, we viewed the University of Notre Dame' Mendoza College of Business 2007/2008 Berges Lecture Series in Business Ethics discussion titled: "Data Mining: Business, Ethical and Societal Considerations: A Panel Discussion" from September 11, 2007 to the component.  This first-of-its-kind forum covered data mining ethics from a management, marketing, and information systems perspective.

Ethics Assignment (New)
With a growing mental tool-box of data mining ethical knowledge, students were challenged to consider a current data mining opportunity for Xavier University as several off-campus businesses (Chipotle, Donatos, CVS, etc.) started accepting ALL CARDS for purchases.  The students were asked to ponder the potential mining opportunities for Xavier University through transactional data that could be captured and how it could aid both the University and its students.  The students were asked to address the situation as both socially responsible and irresponsible practitioners.

INSTRUCTOR REFLECTIONS
The change to the component presented a unique challenge as the field is still in its infancy with discussions and literature on ethics sparsely available.  The pieces that I included broadened the in-class discussion from the original component and exposed the students to new considerations for knowledge discovery.  The assignment gave students an opportunity to see data mining from both a practitioner and consumer standpoint.  As a group they appeared to display a keen sense of social responsibility from both sides.  I plan to use the redesigned component for upcoming classes and adapt the piece for the graduate curriculum.

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Business Statistics II (Intermediate Statistics):
Reflection in a Traditional (Face-2-Face) Statistics Course

Debbie Tesch, DBA
Mission Academy Participant

Course Information -- STAT211 -- Business Statistics II
The goal of Business Statistics II is to impart statistical tools appropriate for the creation, analysis, and transformation of data into information that can be used in business decision making. Business Statistics II builds on the previous application of descriptive statistics (both tabular and graphic representations, probability, sampling and confidence intervals. In Business Statistics II students learn appropriate techniques for examining sample data and making statistical inference about the population within the context of business applications. Such techniques include hypothesis testing for means, proportions, and variances; goodness of fit tests; analysis of variance; simple and multiple regressions, model building, time-series forecasting models, quality control, and decision analysis

COURSE OBJECTIVES
1. Use statistical methods in Excel 2010 to create, analyze, and transform data into information used in business decision making.
2. Formulate and test hypotheses about a population mean and/or a population proportion.
3. Develop interval estimates and conduct hypothesis tests about the difference between two population means.
4. Make inferences about the variance of population(s).
5. Conduct goodness of fit tests.
6. Understand the basic principles of an experimental study.
7. Use Excel 2010 to complete statistical data analyses including ANOVA, correlation, regression, and time series.
8. Provide good forecasts or predictions of future values of a time series.
9. Investigate statistical methods for quality control.
10. Examine decision analysis strategies for optimal decision strategies when several decision alternatives are available.

Ignatian Pedagogy and Reflection
The Jesuit education is characterized as a call to human excellence through the fullest possible development of all human qualities; a development of the whole person through critical thinking and disciplined studies.
The notion of presenting academic subjects out of a human "centeredness", "with stress on uncovering and exploring the patterns, relationships, facts, questions, insights, conclusions, problems, solutions, and implications which a particular discipline brings to light about what it means to be a human being" seemed at first to me to be a stretch for a quantitative course such as business statistics. I was quite comfortable with introducing techniques for problem solving and bringing to light albeit briefly, insights and implication based on problem solutions, but unprepared to opportunities that statistics brings to light about what it means to be a human being.
As I explored Ignatian pedagogy through Mission Academy conversations, the notion of Reflection, seemed most directly appropriate for the discipline. Of the five key teaching elements embodied in Ignation Pedagogy: Context, Experience, Reflection, Action, and Evaluation, Ignation pedagogy goes beyond traditional education experiences by insisting that reflection is added between experience and action whenever appropriate in the learning process. Reflection allows students to draw meaning and value from experience by assimilating facts and testing validity of hypotheses, developing predictions about what will work, and locating a source of feeling and reactions to the "statistically" enhanced decision-making process. In discovering solutions to statistics problems, I erroneously considered that in posing the question "What does this mean in terms of the business decision?" that I was not only asking students to "reflect" on the implications of the decision, but as well to think critically about such implications. In addition to presenting the course reflection assignments from spring 2012, I offer appropriate adjustments to these assignments for future enhancement.

Course Reflection Assignments
Peter Huber, a pioneer in the publication of work in the area of robust statistics, made important contributions to computational statistics, strategies in data analysis, and applications of statistics in fields such as crystallography, EEGs, and human growth curves. In his own reflection, Huber writes, "The interpretation of the results of goodness-of-fit tests must rely on judgment of content rather than on P-values. This perspective becomes more commonplace today but, as Huber writes, "for a traditional mathematical statistician, the implied primacy of judgment over mathematical proof and over statistical significance clearly goes against the grain." The next question is where the judgment comes from. "One answer is that an experienced statistician might work on a few hundred applied problems during his or her career and that will impart some judgment. But what advice can we give to people without such a personal history?"

Discovery of Huber's comment on interpretation of results along with participation in the Mission Academy has led me to further explore mathematically reached conclusions with my students. I offer the following as examples.

An Example from basic Problem Sets
Major League Baseball would love to speed up the play of baseball games to maintain fan interest. Examine a dataset of games played during each of two seasons. What was the percentage reduction in the meantime of baseball games during the most recent season?
Should management be pleased with the results of the statistical analysis? Discuss.
Should the length of baseball games continue to be an issue in future years? Explain.
In this example, students are offered the opportunity to expand their thinking beyond the resulting calculations and further reflect on how this slight mathematical improvement affects the world of baseball. Ensuing class discussion provides opportunities for students not as well-versed in the quantitative methods involved to participate confidently by expressing their opinions for improvement in the process.

Case Problem Examples
Ethical Behavior of Business Students at Bayview University
"...part of the reason for such unethical business behavior may stem from the fact that cheating has become more prevalent among business students (Chronicle of Higher Education, February 10, 2009)"
Report descriptive statistics and conduct hypotheses tests considering whether the proportion of business students cheating at Bayview is less than that reported at other institutions? Less than that of nonbusiness students? Advise the dean on the nature of cheating at Bayview University based on your analysis.

A Bipartisan Agenda for Change
Should legislative pay be cut for every day the state budget is late?
Should there be more restrictions on lobbyists?
Should there be term limits?
Test for the Independence of response with party affiliation.
Does it appear that there is broad support for change across all political lines? Explain.

Questions for continuous consideration and discussion?
Is there a need for more testing?
Is there a need for larger sample sizes?

Instructor Reflection and Future Enhancements
As I matriculated through the academy I discovered that these discussions of Ignatian Pedagogy were encouraging me to think further outside the instruction of statistical processes box and encourage personal reflection associated with calculated results. Digressing from the rigor of calculation encourages participation otherwise avoided by students struggling with concept and calculations. This strategy not only supports greater participation in class discussion but reinforces Ignatius' notion that lasting learning can only happen when time is spent reflecting on the experience.

My experience in the Academy has re-juvenated my intent to embrace the Jesuit goal of educating the whole person. This can be accomplished by greater infusion of reflection exercises (with more depth) into my curriculum. I intend to re-introduce Case problems into the course and add in addition to text-based material, a required reflection, both on the process and results of decision-making alternatives.


Reference
http://www.ajcunet.edu/
http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/statistical-computing/

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