Towards coherent practice in capstone courses for IS majors

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are used to support almost all areas of human activity, and information systems play an increasingly important role in organisations and in society as a whole. At the same time, continuous and dramatic changes in the field of Information Systems (IS) and its context pose serious challenges to educators preparing students for professional practice. This study is therefore about the search to design, develop and implement a framework for constructing a capstone course that will be both flexible and efficient, while simultaneously embracing the interdisciplinary character of the IS field. A capstone course can be viewed as a man-made artefact intended to meet the needs of the world we live in and the activity of building theory in such a world is embedded in the sciences of the artificial. The research paradigm for this environment thus comprised a combination of the behavioural science and design science paradigms. The evolution of a capstone course at the University of Cape Town commenced in 2001 and led to the development of a conceptual framework for a coherent practice. During 2010 and 2011 the conceptual framework acted as a bridge enabling the researcher to develop, refine and evaluate a design science theory. This was done through a series of themed action experiments each consisting of several interventions, to create a synthesis of theory and practice for preparing thoughtful practitioners. The theory includes prescriptive statements of actions leading to specific outcomes that provided evidence of how a reflective practice nurtures deep involvement of students in their learning experience. It further demonstrated how accompanying theories within this framework can be utilised either to underpin or to make sense of the different activities within this practice. These meaning-making activities initiated the reconstruction of interventions and actions to promote transcendence and embodied cognition, nurturing competence and lifelong learning. Ultimately, the intention of the theory is to extend the boundaries of the capabilities of IS majors (or students of other exit level courses) to such an extent that they become empowered to cope with the complex and changing demands of the real world.

Includes bibliographical references.