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Reversing the Landslide in Computer-related Degree Programs

Reversing the Landslide in Computer-related Degree Programs

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Published by: Qiao David on Jul 04, 2012
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contributed articles
february 2010|vol. 53|no. 2| 
communications o the acm
doi: 10.1145/1646353.1646387
by irma becerra-ernandez, Joyce elam, andsusan clemmons
There is growing concern ThaT a Technologicall
educated workforce will not be available to meet theneeds of the job market in information technology in the coming years, primarily because students areturning away from academic programs in computer-related disciplines, including computer science(CS), information technology (IT), and management information systems (MIS). We will collectively referto these academic units as Computer and InformationScience/Systems (CIS). Numerous surveys havedocumented the steep decline: as much as 50% overthe last four years of both the number of graduatesin these programs as well as the enrollment incourses associated with these degree programs.
Thepopularity of computer science as an intended majoramong incoming freshmen continues the decline that 
started in 2000. By 2004, it had urtherdeclined by over 60%.
This lack o in-terest in computer science by incom-ing students translates to a downwardtrend in the number o enrolled stu-dents and graduates or the oresee-able uture.The most comprehensive sourceo inormation on the production o bachelor, masters, and Ph.D. degreesin computer science and computerengineering is the Taulbee Survey, con-ducted annually by the Computing Re-search Association.
 The major ndings rom the 2006Taulbee Survey are:1. Bachelor degree production wasdown more than 15% in 2006, ol-lowing a 13% decrease in 2005. Overthe last three years, there has been adrop o over 40%.2. Master’s degree production was down13% in 2006, this is reasonably consis-tent with the 17% drop in new Master’sstudents reported two years ago.3. The proportion o women receiving bachelor’s degrees decreased rom17% in 2003-04 to 14.76% in 2004-05. The percentage was unchangedin 2006. This trend is not likely tochange in the near uture, as only .3% o incoming reshmen women in2004 expressed an interest in major-ing in computer science.
 It has been suggested that the sametrends reported in this survey are oc-curring in CIS programs in businessschools.
In order to validate this as-sumption, we conducted a survey o large business schools, those with atleast 100 aculty members, that oerbachelor and masters degree programsin computer/management inorma-tion systems. Out o 61 such AACSB-ac-credited business schools, 23 respond-ed to our survey or a response rate o 38%. As shown in Figure 1, our ndingsshow similar declines in degree pro-duction as those in the Taulbee Survey.The number o undergraduate CIS de-grees awarded declined rom 2,699 in03-04 to 1,163 in 06-07 – a drop o 57%.The percentage o women graduates is
rvg l cp-rdgPg
communications o the acm
 |february 2010|vol. 53|no. 2
contributed articles
many technology-oriented elds, en-terprise IT is currently undergoing dra-matic changes, and IT organizationsare reducing their sta and becoming more specialized.
Rather than refect-ing the new realities o what a CIS ca-reer will be, students perceive thatthe CIS curriculum may be preparing them or jobs which no longer exist,rather than preparing them or emerg-ing IT jobs. As IT becomes more per- vasive and central to many disciplines– rom biology to art – students aredrawn to academic programs in theseelds that increasingly provide theirown CIS courses, specically tailoredor that proession.Gender dierences in the choice o college majors have been ound to bea key contributor to the persistent low number o women CIS enrollments.
 Some reports attribute this dierenceto the act that IT workplaces (and uni- versity classrooms) lack interpersonalorientation resulting in an inhospita-ble male dominated atmosphere.
Oth-er reports point out that the infuenceand attitude towards CIS may be bestinstilled by a girl’s parents and early positive experiences with technology.
 Shaping their early interests may in-spire a more diverse work pool in theuture, but does not oer immediatehigher than that reported in the Taul-bee survey, although the percentagedeclined rom 31% to 21%. The decline was not as steep or masters degreesawarded. The number o CIS mastersdegrees awarded declined rom 463in 03-04 to 318 in 06-07, a drop o 32%.The percentage o emale graduatesheld steady at 25%.One o the best ways to gain insightinto the declining interest in CIS is tolook at this issue rom the students’perspective. First, there are the stu-dents who, at one time, would haveconsidered a major in CIS but who nolonger perceive there are opportunitiesto build a career in this eld. This lacko job market attractiveness is probably tied to the Internet bubble burst, whichaccompanied the technology stockmarket crash. The bubble burst causeda temporary glut o experienced IT pro-essionals in the market, squeezing outthe jobs rom new graduates. However,there are more positions or new gradu-ates today as compared to 2002.Furthermore, students who may have an interest in CIS are very awareo the growing trend to oshore many low-end, production-oriented IT jobs, which may result in reluctance to com-mit to a career in an industry that they perceive in decline. In addition, likerelie in dealing with the impending CIS student decline.It is clear that strong interventionsare needed i CIS academic units areto maintain their current aculties,academic and research programs, anddominant position as the knowledgeleader in computing-related disciplines within the university. The types o inter- ventions needed are multi-dimensional.Clearly, students’ perception about thelack o attractive high-paying careers inCIS needs to be addressed. Major chang-es in curriculum design need to be un-dertaken. And, we argue that anotherimportant necessary change is or CISacademic units to become providers o computer education or those academicdisciplines where IT has become an in-tegral part o their curriculum.CIS academic units rom around thecountry are looking or ways to respondto the current problem o declining en-rollments in dierent ways. In orderto understand how to respond to thedeclining enrollment phenomena, weturned to the work o Haeckel and itscontrast between the “make-and-sell” versus the “sense-and-respond” orga-nization, which we describe in the nextsection. We describe the interventionstaken at Florida International Uni- versity (FIU) to address the declining 
g 1 – cis ug  G dg aw  a y
Pp s: u (ug) =20, G (G) = 13
University o Alabama, Culverhouse College o Commerce and BusinessAdministration (U)Baylor University, Hankamer School o Business (U & G)Boston University, School o Management (G)Brigham Young University, Marriott School o Management (U & G)Caliornia State University, Fullerton, College o Business and Economics(U & G)Caliornia State University, Northridge, College o Business and Economics(U)University o Central Florida, College o Business Administration (U & G)DePaul University, College o Commerce and Charles H. Kellstadt GraduateSchool o Business (U & G)Florida Atlantic University, College o Business Administration (U)Florida International University, College o Business Administration(U & G)Florida State University, College o Business (U & G)University o Florida, Warrington College o Business Administration(U & G)Georgia Southern University, College o Business Administration (U & G)James Madison University, College o Business (U)Louisiana State University, E.J. Ourso College o Business (U)Miami University, Richard T. Farmer, School o Business Administration (G)University o Minnesota, Carlson School o Management (U)Purdue University, Krannert School o Business (U)University o Texas at San Antonio, College o Business (U & G)University o South Florida, College o Business (U & G)Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Pamplin College oBusiness (U)
contributed articles
february 2010|vol. 53|no. 2| 
communications o the acm
student MIS enrollments and degreeproduction in the business school. Wethen explore the extent to which Haeck-el’s model o the sense-and-respondorganization could be used to denea new way o operating or academicunits. We also discuss the major dier-ences between the two models appliedto CIS academic units and conclude with a discussion o the implicationso this new operating model as univer-sities seek to respond to the markets o the uture.
t apv og
Complexity theory describes adaptivesystems as those having the ability tosense and interpret what may seemlike noise into a meaningul course o action. The sense-and-respond modelconsists o:
“First, by organizing inorma-tion in a specifc way to represent and support systematic adaptive-ness by key roles in the frm (theadaptive loop); second, by organiz-ing assets and capabilities as a sys-tem o modules that can be dynami-cally dispatched into one-o valuechains (modular organization); and third, by replacing command and control with a commitment-centric governance system that propagatesthe purpose, bounds, and essential structure o the business through-out the organization.” 
Sense-and-respond reers thento organizational behavior that isdesigned to rst sense and identiy changing customer needs as they hap-pen, rather than attempting to predictuture customer demand. Changing customer needs require the organiza-tion to be able to adapt their productoerings with the required fexibility,agility, and responsiveness. Adaptiveorganizations come to accept chang-ing customer needs and unpredictablechange as the norm, rather than theexception. The old make-and-sell busi-ness model made popular in stable or-ganizational environments is not ableto cope with the rapid and discontinu-ous change o pace that is character-istic o many technology-intensive en- vironments. In technology-intensiveenvironments adaptiveness takes pre-cedence over eciency, and organiza-tions must translate apparent noiseinto meaning aster than it arrives.
Businesses that have a structurethat supports modular capabilities canachieve low-cost customization with-out incurring the costs associated withdeveloping customized product oer-ings. Much like modular products canbe recongured into new oerings by connecting components in new ways,modular organizations can meet new customer needs by combining theirexisting modular capabilities in inno- vative ways.Finally, sense-and-respond organi-zations dene leadership as being ac-countable or three outcomes:“Creation and continuous adaptation
o a viable organizational contextEstablishment o a commitment
management system to coordinate thebehavior o people in accountable
rolesPopulation o roles with the right
 Creation o a viable organizationalcontext reers to dening the purpose,boundaries, and structure o the adap-tive system they are creating, including the organizational purpose, the gov-erning principles or boundaries o theenterprise, and the high-level businessdesign or the relationships among parts o the system.
Once leaders haveestablished a context, they must en-orce it via governance. One way to es-tablish the necessary governance is viaa system that manages commitments.The goal is to manage the interactionso empowered and accountable mem-bers o the organization. Winograd and Flores
dene man-agement as “taking care o the articula-tion and activation o a network o com-mitments, produced primarily throughpromises and requests,” and commit-ment as an agreement with someone todo something in the uture. The gover-nance in sense-and-respond organiza-tions is modeled much like the com-mitment process o collaborative supply chains “while managers conducting transactions within the corporate bound-ary can pretty much tell their employees what to do (except perhaps in academiccircles) … interorganizational transac-tions are usually managed through re-quests that, upon mutual agreement,orm the basis o commitments.”
 In their work, Winograd and Flores
 describe a theoretical basis or interac-tion between negotiating parties, in which commitment is dened as anagreement between a customer and aperormer, based on a set o conditionso satisaction within a predened cy-cle time. In this business interactionmodel (see Figure 2) the person mak-ing the requests takes on the role o thecustomer, while the person doing the work takes the role o the perormer.The model is a “closed-loop” becausethe customer starts the loop o busi-
g 2 - mgg  v    
(Source: Welty and Becerra-Fernandez, 2001)

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