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Systems Analysis and Design, Soft Skills, Peer Review, Practical Learning
Information Systems (IS) curricula should provide students with both technical and non-technical (soft) skills. The technical aspects are covered by various courses. However, soft skills like teamwork, interpersonal communication, presentation delivery, and others are hardly covered. Employers, who consider both technical and soft skills to be equally important, search for professional Information Systems employees possessing both sets of skills. These employers often complain that finding an IS graduate with both types of skills is quite difficult. The IS 2010 Model Curriculum refers to both types of skills, considering them an essential part of the graduate knowledge base. However, in many cases the soft skills are not sufficiently addressed, and even if they are, it is not necessarily in the context of software development projects. The Systems Analysis and Design (SAD) course provides an important foundation for the IS profession. This is especially true due to the emerging role of the programmer-analyst who is responsible not only for programming but also for some analysis work. In order to strengthen the soft skills in the context of system analysis and design, we suggest a workshop structure emphasizing these soft skills while students analyze and design a complete information system. Our SAD workshop includes some face to face lectures and team-based collaborations. The students undertake many online activities, including teamwork, interviews with simulated clients, team-based peer reviews, presentation delivery, and so forth. The workshop employs a grade difference calculation mechanism that revealed, along with the students' reflections, that the workshop structure enhanced the students' ability to cope with the workshop assignments while strengthening their soft skills and preparing them for their future analysis and design challenges.
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