Design, Contextual Learning, Information System, Programming, Project
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This paper reports about a study for creating a learner-centered environment in the context of teaching information system design (ISD) in high school. The participants were 40 students from two schools who prepared individual graduating projects, for example, an information system for a small business or a medical clinic. Data were collected through observations in the class, interviews with students, analysis of their products and portfolios, and feedback questionnaires.
The study revealed that giving the student the opportunity to choose projects that were meaningful to them personally or related to their family business fostered their motivation on the task. The majority of students greatly improved their programming skills related to ISD, but many of them only partially completed all the design phases, namely, inquiring into the customers’ needs, and planning (for example, drawing data flow diagrams). Two factors influenced this situation. Firstly, the fact that the students had some basic knowledge and experience in programming before they approached the graduating project, but knew very little about the ISD process. Secondly, while the students worked on programming in an interactive advanced technological environment, they performed the system design manually, for example, drawing design diagrams using a word processor.
To foster a constructivist-learning environment in information system development, we suggest teaching concepts of information system design at early stages in high school. We recommend starting to engage students in small, open-ended design tasks and gradually increasing the scope and complexity of these assignments.