WHY INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND SOFTWARE ENGINEERING STUDENTS ENTER AND LEAVE THEIR STUDY PROGRAMME, ACTA UNIVERSITATIS OULUENSIS A Scientiae Rerum Naturalium 599
|Kustantaja:||Oulun yliopisto|| |
|Oppiaine:||Kasvatus, opetus|| |
|Sijainti:||Print Tietotalo|| |
|Tekijät:||LEIVISKÄ KATJA|| |
The issues that influence students’ decisions to enter and drop out of university IT programmesare a major concern for universities worldwide. The low enrolment of women in IT studies hasreceived considerable attention from the academic world. This doctoral thesis aims to contributeto alleviating these problems. The primary contribution of this thesis is the laying out of implications for theory and practicein relation to the high student dropout rates in IT programmes. To elucidate this phenomenon,previous research on student dropout rates has advanced various factor models that explain orpredict the dropout tendencies of university students. Although these studies enhance ourunderstanding of the reasons students drop out of Computer Science (CS) courses, universitystudies, and online learning programmes, I found no research that describes the process that causesstudents to drop out of university. Such a process viewpoint is important given that students’decision to abandon a programme is not a static phenomenon, but a complex and dynamicoccurrence. This phenomenon develops through a number of stages. As an initial step in filling thegap in research, I analysed qualitative interviews that centred on 40 Information Systems andSoftware Engineering (IS/SE) students who dropped out of the programme. I also conducted asecond round of interviews with nine of these students to collect more accurate information ontheir motivation and emotions at the time they decided to drop out. On the basis of the interviews,I inductively developed a process theory approach, drawing from van de Ven (1992) and van deVen and Poole (1995). The proposed process theory explains the trajectories that promptuniversity students to abandon the IS/SE programme. It also explains the course that the dropoutprocess takes after decisions have been made. The findings reveal potential research directions instudent dropout, and provide new insights into the reasons students abandon IS/SE studies. On thebasis of the results, I formulate strategies for preventing student dropout. The second contribution of this thesis is that it sheds light on the factors that influence students’decision to enter IT programmes. Previous studies have been conducted in the US, Canada, andAustralia, but only a few have been devoted to Europe. Not much research has been done on theScandinavian context. To address this problem, I analysed the qualitative responses of 64 femalesixth form students regarding their attitudes towards studying IT disciplines, including CS, IS, andSE. We also examined their perspectives on IT as a profession. This study extends the literatureby offering new information on why females shun CS or IS careers and what attitudes they holdabout these disciplines.