Research Integration in Information Systems Education: Students’ Perceptions on Learning Strategies, Skill Development, and Performance
This study aimed to explore whether students’ self-reported use of various learning strategies affected their perceptions on different course activities as well as their perceived performance in terms of both cognitive learning outcomes and general skills.
In a highly active learning environment that incorporates research into teaching, the effective use of various learning strategies is considered of high importance for the successful engagement of students. Yet, this line of research has mainly focused on individual learning. Shifting from individual to collaborative learning settings, the current study investigated whether students’ use of self-regulated learning, peer learning, and help seeking strategies influenced their perceptions on both the group activities and the respective outcomes.
At the beginning of the course, 81 first semester postgraduate students self-reported the level of use of self-regulated learning, peer learning, and help seeking strategies by filling in the respective subscales of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). Then, groups of 3 or 4 students were formed and instructed to create several learning artifacts of different types and conduct a peer-tutoring session, based on a topic assigned to them by the teacher. Additionally, the same groups conducted a research project of their own choice within course topics. Students’ final grade served as an indicator of their academic performance. At the end of the semester, students filled in a questionnaire eliciting their perceptions on the process and the outputs of the course activities. Finally, through statistical analysis of students’ responses to the questionnaires, the influence of learning strategies on students’ perceptions and their academic performance was examined.
Our findings contribute to the literature regarding the research-teaching nexus in higher education settings. More specifically, the study shows how students’ self-reported use of learning strategies affects students’ perceptions on the activities they were engaged in, their achievement of cognitive learning outcomes, and their skills development in a research-integrated course design.
Students perceived differently the value of producing and studying learning artifacts. Students who scored higher in the self-regulated learning and peer learning subscales of MSLQ perceived their role as more active in the preparation of the presentation for the peer-tutoring session, which was the artifact that required higher level of interaction among the group members. Students’ final grades were influenced partially by their self-reported use of different learning strategies.
Integrating research into teaching through the assignment of research-related tasks to students can promote students’ acquisition of domain knowledge and research skills. The merits of this approach can be further strengthened by having students working in groups and providing the outputs of their involvement in the research-related activities as learning material for their peers. Furthermore, students’ individual characteristics (e.g., use of learning strategies and preferences should be taken into account when designing course activities).
Researchers should continue to explore the way that various learning strategies influence different aspects of the learning process, especially in the achievement of cognitive learning outcomes and the development of general skills.
Creating learning environments that foster students’ active engagement with the course material and peer collaboration should be a vital goal of higher education institutes as it can improve students’ performance and promote the necessary skills for self-directed and autonomous learning, a key competence in the modern workplace.
In this study, both cognitive learning outcomes and general skills were assessed by students’ final grade. In a future study, distinguishing these different types of learning outcomes would allow us to examine in more detail the impact of students’ learning strategies and course activities on the accomplishment of cognitive learning outcomes and general skills.