Assessing The Role of Tech in Business

  • What is being assessed: Understanding of the role of technology in society, including behavioral implications of technology in the workplace

Technology influences how we work, and how we work influences technology. Whether it is a company installing a state-of-the-art accounting software that closes gaps/errors in previous practices, or existing work practices that demand that software be modified/customized to ‘fit’ an existing culture, there is almost always a give and take with people and technology. Organizational behavior professionals have been discussing the interaction between people and technology for decades.

Authors such as Debra Gash and Wanda Orlikowski at the MIT Sloan School of Management have researched how people and technologies introduced into companies can influence each other. Their work on the organizational impact of groupware such as Lotus Notes and the concept of technological frames of reference are great foundational pieces for students to begin to understand the interaction of people, work practices, and information technology.

So how can instructors assess the student learning outcome of “understanding of the role of technology in society, including behavioral implications of technology in the workplace?”

One possible way is to critique how well the student presents their analysis and argument, rather than simply whether or not they get the “right” answer (since there isn’t one correct answer). I would argue that how the student presents their analysis is far more important and relevant to a student’s learning about a topic than simply parroting textbook information.

An excellent rubric to use for the assessment of a student’s work (and specifically this student learning outcome) is the Inquiry and Analysis VALUE rubric from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) As stated on the website, “VALUE stands for Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education. VALUE is a campus-based, faculty developed assessment approach organized and lead by AAC&U as part of its Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative.”

The Inquiry and Analysis VALUE rubric states that “Inquiry is a systematic process of exploring issues, objects or works through the collection and analysis of evidence that results in informed conclusions or judgments. Analysis is the process of breaking complex topics or issues into parts to gain a better understanding of them.” Each VALUE rubric contains several criteria to evaluate students’ work. The relevant criteria for assessing this student learning outcome might be:

a) Existing Knowledge, Research, and/or Views (synthesizes in-depth information from relevant sources representing various points of view/ approaches)

b) Design Process (all elements of the methodology or theoretical framework are skillfully developed. Appropriate methodology or theoretical frameworks may be synthesized from across disciplines or from relevant subdisciplines)

c) Analysis (organizes and synthesizes evidence to reveal insightful patterns, differences, or similarities related to focus)

d) Conclusions (states a conclusion that is a logical extrapolation from the inquiry findings)

e) Limitations & Implications (insightfully discusses in detail relevant and supported limitations and implications)

Using a rubric that evaluates the thought process of inquiry and analysis is far more useful and relevant to assess student learning outcome’s than simply recording whether or not the student has gotten the ‘right’ answer.

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