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Creative pedagogy: A qualitative study of immersive learning at the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS)

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Olufunmilola Olufunmilayo Olorunda
Abstract:
The Center for Information and Communication Sciences graduate program commenced at Ball State University in 1986 with a specific focus to train graduate students to be leaders in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry. The Center is the manifestation of a vision birthed out of creativity and resourcefulness. This study examined the creative pedagogy approach at CICS based on instruction, social learning culture, professional development, academic achievements, and collaborative interaction among students, faculty, alumni, and colleagues in ICT industries. The distinctiveness of this graduate program that combined in-class and out-of-class learning experiences was the focus of this study. This study employed a qualitative method, specifically a descriptive case study design with the intent to understand and explain the academic, social, and cultural phenomena of the graduate program at CICS. The central research questions of this study focused on the impact of the teaching, learning, social and leadership outcomes of the program. The data collection methods used for this inquiry were semi-structured interviews in combination with evidence from archival document data. The twelve participants were selected through purposive sampling and snowball sampling techniques. The data analysis consisted of open coding techniques that produced eight themes. The findings were organized in relation to the study's three central research questions and indicated that the educational, technical, and social learning experiences of the masters program at CICS impacted the current students and alumni in a variety of ways. All the participants considered the program intense and comprehensive. They also agreed that the program was built around professional development. The existence of elements such as, the Student Social Learning Program (SSLP), teamwork, group projects, close-knit alumni community, well qualified faculty members, enrollment diversity, and student-centered immersive learning made CICS distinct from other programs. The educational philosophy used in the program was described as effective, deliberate, consistent, clear-cut, invasive, multidisciplinary, integrated, and a culture of success. Key recommendations for further studies include study on the feasibility of replicating the success of CICS by adopting their pedagogical philosophies and practices and a comparative study of similar programs.

TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION .......................................................................................................................... i

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT .......................................................................................................ii ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................... iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS ........................................................................................................ v

CHAPTER 1- INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................... 1

Purpose of the Study ........................................................................................................... 4

Research Questions ............................................................................................................. 5

Background Information ..................................................................................................... 5

Alumni Networking......................................................................................................... 7

Curriculum...................................................................................................................... 8

Recruitment of Students ................................................................................................. 9

Significance and Scope of the Study.................................................................................. 9 Definition of Terms ........................................................................................................... 10

Researcher’s Perspective .................................................................................................. 11

Summary ............................................................................................................................ 12

CHAPTER 2 - REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ............................................................. 13

Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 13

Experiential Learning........................................................................................................ 13

Collaborative Learning ..................................................................................................... 16

Constructivist Learning Theory........................................................................................ 17

Problem-based Learning ................................................................................................... 20

Participative Leadership ................................................................................................... 22

Diversity in Higher Education Enrollment ...................................................................... 23

Communication and Conversation Theory ...................................................................... 26

Summary ............................................................................................................................ 28 CHAPTER 3 - METHODOLOGY ....................................................................................... 29

Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 29

Research Questions ........................................................................................................... 30 v

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Research Design ................................................................................................................ 30

The Qualitative Paradigm ........................................................................................... 30

Why is Descriptive Case Study suitable for this research? ....................................... 32

Participants ........................................................................................................................ 34

Recruitment Process .................................................................................................... 35

Purposive and Snowball Sampling Techniques .............................................................. 35

Accessing the Field ........................................................................................................... 38

Data Collection .................................................................................................................. 39

Interviews ...................................................................................................................... 40

Archival Data Analysis ................................................................................................ 41

Data Analysis..................................................................................................................... 42

Ethical Considerations and Researcher’s Bias ................................................................ 44

Summary ............................................................................................................................ 46

CHAPTER 4 - FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS .................................................................... 47

Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 47

Thematic Categories ......................................................................................................... 48

Intense and Comprehensive Learning ........................................................................ 48

Totally Immersive Experience ..................................................................................... 54

Outstanding Professional Development ..................................................................... 57

Student Social Learning Program (SSLP). .............................................................. 63

Group Dynamics and Cohesion .................................................................................. 65 Networking: Importance of Alumni Bond ................................................................... 70

Faculty Responsibility and Relationship .................................................................... 73

Enrollment Diversity .................................................................................................... 79

Engaging Pedagogy ..................................................................................................... 82

Accenture Challenge. ................................................................................................ 84

Archival Data..................................................................................................................... 86 ITERA and CICS .......................................................................................................... 86

Description of classes at CICS .................................................................................... 88

Summary ............................................................................................................................ 91

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CHAPTER 5 - DISCUSSION, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS............. 92

Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 92

Discussion of Findings...................................................................................................... 93

Conclusion .......................................................................................................................110

Recommendations ...........................................................................................................112

REFERENCES .....................................................................................................................115

APPENDICES ......................................................................................................................133 Appendix A – Interview Questions ................................................................................133

Interview Questions for Students...............................................................................133

Interview Questions for Alumni.................................................................................134

Interview Questions for Faculty ................................................................................135 Appendix B – IRB Approval ..........................................................................................136

Appendix C – Participants Information .........................................................................137

Appendix D - Recruitment of Participants ....................................................................138 Verbal Recruitment ....................................................................................................138

Email - Introductory Letter........................................................................................139

Appendix E – Informed Consent ....................................................................................140

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

“What follows is a vision, dream, a set of ideas filled with ambiguities and possibilities . . . we must have a strategic focus which can lead toward excellence. That focus, if maintained long enough will allow able people to create an improved learning environment.”

This was part of a speech by Ray L. Steele, the founding director on the opening of the Center for Information and Communication Sciences at Ball State University in April 1986. My journey to Ball State University (BSU) in summer 2004 to commence an eleven-month master’s degree program at the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) became an opportunity to be immersed in a theoretical and practical learning opportunity. My first visit was exciting with much to take in. My first impressions were very positive and have stayed with me ever since. The ambience of the Center was welcoming and impressive. The Center demonstrated professionalism and warmth, which were two things I never lacked at CICS during my eleven-month sojourn. The director of the Center, who I was meeting for the first time, even though I had spoken to him during an international telephone call and had communicated with him many times through emails, warmly welcomed me. He introduced me to the two faculty members that were present, the office coordinator and all the graduate assistants that were present in the lobby of the Center. He then requested one of the graduate assistants to

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give me a tour of the Center, which was the start of a journey for me that ended in May 2005 with a Masters degree in Information and Communication Sciences. The Center is the manifestation of a vision that was birthed out of creativity and resourcefulness with a focus to create an enabling atmosphere for teachers and learners to pursue knowledge. The desire to “grow leaders for the information age” was paramount to the founding director, Ray Steele, and his team of faculty; thus, a culture of leadership and professionalism was created with a passion to bring excellence to the information age. The Center located at Ball State University housed the Applied Research Institute that consists of six industry-supported laboratories - Convergence, Networking, Digital Media, Applications, Wireless Innovation, and the Network Integration Center (Ball State University [BSU], 2007g). The need for professionals in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry to exhibit social, human communication, leadership, management, and technical skills is crucial to the information technology industry. In times past, Information Technology (IT) professionals were perceived as technical and mechanical workers with minimal contact with other employees in the workplace. The assumption is that since they work with technology, their focus is unilateral and most college IT programs are traditionally designed with such preconceived notions. Therefore, they produce professionals working with technology skills without consideration for social interaction (R. Steele, personal communication, September 10, 2007). CICS provided a different thrust aiming to turn out technology professionals who could also resolve problems that require strong interpersonal skills. According to Ray Steele, “the graduate program [was] designed to prepare effective leaders for

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the Information age,” and the goal of the program was to “turn out problem-solvers" (R. Steele, personal communication, September 10, 2007). Thus, the graduate program at CICS presented an interesting opportunity to conduct an in-depth study and examine how the program is structured to produce IT professionals who can combine both communication and technology skills to solve problems in their work environment. As the evolving new technologies create challenges for the world, IT professionals must be able to respond to the different needs of consumers. Thus, it is important to produce those who can adequately manage the amorphous challenges of organizations and at the same time be people-friendly. The thirty-eight credit hours master’s program, which can be completed in eleven months, is modeled as a real world curriculum with the support of different IT organizations (BSU, 2007f). The culture at CICS has been noted to be unique due to the combination of the academic program and social interaction-Student Social Learning Program (SSLP) to produce well rounded professionals in the information and communication industry. The program combines theory and practice to teach professionals how to analyze information and communication problems (BSU, 2007j). The program has been identified as one of the few interdisciplinary programs in the country that combines theory and hands-on learning opportunities in diagnosing information and communication problems. The recognition by the International Telecommunication Education and Research Association (ITERA) of “the holistic nature of the CICS program and its unusual level of success over its 20+ year history” (BSU, 2007d, ¶ 3) reinforces the need to study the concept and

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fundamentals of the graduate program in an objective manner. The founding director stated that the “award recognizes the holistic nature of the CICS program and its unusual level of success over its history . . . It is peer-based recognition, which is the highest compliment we can receive" (Ransford, 2007, ¶ 5). Purpose of the Study The purpose of this research was to examine the pedagogy approach at the Center for Information and Communication Sciences based on instruction, social learning culture, professional development, academic achievements, and collaborative interaction among students, faculty, alumni, and colleagues in ICT industries. The study will help to gain insight into CICS educational and immersive learning culture. This study is set to illuminate the learning, social and enriching experience at CICS through the ‘Real World Experience’ initiative of the program. The real world experience is achieved through students’ active participation in special projects of the Applied Research Institute. This is an umbrella for the Human Factors Institute, the Institute of Wireless Innovation, the Software Testing Institute, and the Internetworking Academy and Training Institute dedicated to support the Center and assist students gain valuable experience and interact with IT professionals in the industry (BSU, 2007i). The CICS program was created to enable students have an educational experience in a holistic environment that incorporates academics, laboratories, and social interaction. Thus, it is crucial to examine the process of producing students who are suitable for technical, leadership, and management responsibilities in a variety of organizations (BSU, 2007k). This study will also investigate the “success of CICS alumni, the high level of contribution of the faculty in publication, presentations and leadership, and the

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overall quality of the student experience” that was the standard for ITERA award (Update, 2007, ¶ 6). Research Questions There are three research questions focused on the impact of the teaching, learning, social, and leadership frameworks of the program at CICS. 1. How do current students and the alumni of the program describe how the educational, technical, and social learning experiences at CICS impacted their professional experience? 2. How do CICS alumni define and describe professional success in relationship to the Center? 3. How do students and faculty describe the impact of the educational philosophy used in the CICS masters program? Background Information The Center for Information and Communication Sciences graduate program commenced at Ball State University in 1986 with a specific focus to train graduate students to be leaders in the information and communication technology field. It was relocated in 1988 to the then newly-completed Edmund F. Ball Communications Building. The Center houses specially designed information age facilities that “enables CICS to extend its academic program, house and equip its Applied Research Institute, conduct its teleconferencing and special programs mission, and display the most promising information age technologies” (BSU, 2007h, ¶ 4). The visionary for the program, Ray Steele, was formerly at the University of Pittsburgh where he created a similar program. The Ball State graduate program was

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designed to run for eleven months for full-time students in order to teach the full complement of the “information technology business.” The focus of the program was to build a community of leaders and professionals in the United States and globally. It was designed for students “on the fast track to management positions in the ICT industry” with a one-year program that enables students to “learn to create manageable solutions that support the bottom line for organizations in all areas of [the] society” (BSU, 2007a, ¶ 1). The International Telecommunication Education and Research Association (ITERA) named CICS the National Graduate Program of the Year in March 2007. The Director was recognized and awarded ITERA’s Distinguished Service Award, an award for service to the academic field and to the telecommunications and information and communication technologies profession. ITERA is the primary association for graduate and undergraduate programs in the fields involving telecommunications and information and communication technologies and management in the United States (Ransford, 2007). The purpose of the graduate program at CICS is targeted towards bringing enduring change in the students in a professional environment and impact on the broader society. The goals are (a) developing professionalism, (b) helping individuals think holistically about problems, (c) encouraging the development of leadership, (d) causing the concept and practice of integration to be more commonly used, (e) providing a learning environment in which theory, hands-on experience and outcome expectations merge, and where constant growth is required, (f) offering a rich resource of service sufficient to attract attention at the national and global level and providing local and state opportunities which follow and benefit all with whom we are associated, (g) increasing

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sensitivity to ethical behaviors and issues and (h) providing leading-edge opportunities (BSU, 2007l). The center also has fundamental values of which the students are constantly reminded such as integrity, professional behavior, personal respect, candor, commitment, entrepreneurial orientation, quality commitment, loyalty, leadership, communication, reality, and outcome-oriented activities. These values are usually inculcated early in the students’ mind at the orientation program specially designed to break the students into the tradition at CICS. The students are also reminded constantly of these values throughout their studies in the Center (BSU, 2007e). Alumni Networking The program has over 1300 alumni in United States and internationally who work in various industries across different IT related careers. The strength of alumni networking hinges on the culture of being a brother’s keeper that has been impressed upon them as students in the Center. Alumni contribute regularly to the success of the program through monetary contributions, equipment donations, employment notification and references, employment placements, attendance of the center’s academic and social programs, and mentoring current students (BSU, 2007b). The Center has updated contact information of all reachable alumni, which is available on the Center’s website for students, faculty and alumni to view with a protected password. This enables the Center to be in contact with alumni to share information about the Center and request their continued support. The support from alumni has been noted to provide travel opportunities, networking, and social event opportunities for students (BSU, Alumni, 2007). “Graduates have maintained a 95 percent placement rate in the field since

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CICS opened its doors in 1986” (BSU, 2007k, p. 3-4). This is a remarkable accomplishment that the Center attributes to alumni networking. Curriculum Pedagogy at CICS consists of various classroom work, laboratories, seminars, presentations, field trips, team projects, blogging, social events, and similar extracurricular activities. The faculty is composed of full-time seasoned practitioners in the IT field with extensive real-world industry experience, interdisciplinary instructors, and distinguished visitors. Various users, vendors, and consultants in IT industries provide resources at the Center. The Center's senior faculty members are regularly joined in teaching by talented members of affiliated departments such as computer science, management science, telecommunications, marketing (BSU, 2007f). One of the goals of the Center for Information and Communication Sciences is to create well-rounded individuals; therefore, the Center regularly creates for students, opportunities to interact on social and professional levels with industry executives and other individuals through the Student Social Learning Program (SSLP). This program enables students to gain cultural and social experiences, as well as developing networking and communication skills through a variety of activities including (a) orientation and backyard barbeque, (b) leadership and team development challenge events (c) golf outings (d) symphony dinners (e) presentation skills workshop (f) homecoming tailgating event (g) international dinner (h) job placement seminar (i) alumni dinner (j) holiday receptions (k) super bowl party (l) mid-winter "Shed the Doldrums" event (m) ski trip and information summit (n) wine tasting (o) final fling for soon to be graduates and (p) graduation luncheon (BSU, 2007e).

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Recruitment of Students The method of recruitment of students at CICS is reinforced by word-of-mouth through the testimony of current students, the alumni network, and CICS industry partners in the United States. This is one of the strong points of the program. The director, alumni, and current students recruit international students from India through visits to that country. Others are referred from various colleges nationally and internationally (R. Steele, personal communication, September 10, 2007). The program at CICS is designed to enhance the ability of students to manage projects, work in teams, and acquire leadership skills in the IT industry. Student development is encouraged by faculty interaction and collaboration with the students. The creative approach of teaching information and communication sciences has produced laudable results for 23 years, thus it is appropriate to study how model functions. Significance and Scope of the Study The peculiarity of the program makes it distinctive for a study because it was created for hands-on learning that takes place inside and outside the classroom. It also involves the use of real-world technologies in the center’s laboratories, projects for corporate partners, and social learning outside the traditional classroom (BSU, 2007e). Student growth and development is encouraged by faculty interaction and collaboration with the students. The study focuses on the perceptions of students, faculty, and alumni affiliated with the Center for Information and Communication Sciences at Ball State University. In addition, archival materials relevant to the Center were examined to corroborate information provided by the participants.

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Definition of Terms Alumna – female college or university graduate. Alumni – (plural) used to describe two or more college or university graduate. This is also referred to as ‘alum’ by some of the participants. Alumnus – male college or university graduate. Collaboration - collective learning, participation or responsibility for a project, an assignment or professional learning that is centered on achieving desired results. Faculty - an instructor or academic staff member in a college or university. Higher Education –a two or four year college or university form of education. ICS – acronym for Information and Communication Sciences. ICT – acronym for Information and Communication Technology commonly referred to as Information Technology (IT). Immersive Learning - instruction or learning experiences that extends beyond the traditional classroom. Interview Field- an interview space which may be the physical space or the interview process. Mentorship - a supportive relationship or developmental relationship established between two individuals or more where knowledge, skills, and experience are shared to help in building the less experienced individual(s). Networking - the process of building communities of people who share the same interests or are working towards the same purpose. Paradigm- standard, model or pattern. It could also be a set of statement, theory, principles, or practices.

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Pedagogy - teaching method or curriculum. It could also be described as the principles, science and methods of teaching. The Program - the term were used to represent various units in this study such as CICS, Center, Program, and Center for Information and Communications Sciences. Researcher’s Perspective My strength as a researcher in this study was the insider status. I have prior knowledge of the Center’s activities and was able to utilize the direct involvement and prior knowledge that I had as an alumna of this program. Robson (2002) noted that researchers could belong to the culture they were studying. Anti-positivist perspective indicates that insider research possesses the potential to enhance validity due to the additional richness, honesty, fidelity and authenticity of the information acquired. Insiders were noted to possess a wealth of knowledge that outsiders lacked (Tedlock, 2000; Tierney, 1994; Robson, 2002). I relied on the assertion that qualitative research is enriched by the personal experience and prior knowledge of the researcher (Bogdan & Biklen, 1982; Hoepfl, 1997; Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Patton, 1990, Stake, 1978; Yin 2003). Hoepfl (1997) stated, “Strauss and Corbin believe that theoretical sensitivity comes from a number of sources, including professional literature, professional experiences, and personal experiences” (p. 50). My prior knowledge of CICS was a source of strength in the research process. A minimal risk factor is indicated because of the type of research where the participants only recount their experiences and opinions on the subject matter. Along with engaging in the process of sustained reflexivity, I used a member-checking

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procedure to ensure credibility. Member checking involves sharing the draft of the analysis with the participants (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Strauss & Corbin, 1998). The participants read through the summary of their interviews and verified the accuracy of their recorded experience. Summary This chapter commenced with a general introduction to this study. The purpose of this research was to examine the pedagogy approach at the Center for Information and Communication Sciences. Three research questions that focused on the impact of the teaching, learning, social, and leadership outcomes of the program at CICS were propounded. Background information about the Center that included alumni networking, curriculum, and recruitment of students were discussed. The chapter provided definition of terms used in this study and discussed the significance, scope, and researcher’s perspective of the study. The next chapter will review literature relevant to this study.

CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Introduction This chapter reviewed literature relevant to creative pedagogy and the purpose of the research, which was to examine the pedagogy approach at the Center for Information and Communication Sciences based on instruction, social learning culture, professional development, academic achievements, and collaborative interaction among students, faculty, alumni, and colleagues in ICT industries. Prior research on the concept of experiential learning, collaborative learning, constructive learning theory, and problem- based learning were examined. This chapter also examined participative leadership, group, and teamwork, diversity in higher education enrollment and communication and conversation theory. Experiential Learning The increase of experiential learning in colleges was due to the need for students to be more marketable when they graduate (Gettys 1990; Kolb & Fry, 1975; Kolb, 1984). As colleges and universities became concerned about the decrease in job markets and increased competition among college graduates, it was apparent that students would require being involved in a different form of hands-on-experience to learn about their chosen industries. According to Kolb and Kolb (2005)

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Experiential learning is often misunderstood as a set of tools and techniques to provide learners with experiences from which they can learn. Others have used the term to describe learning that is a mindless recording of experience. Yet experiential learning is above all a philosophy of education based on what Dewey (1938) called a ‘theory of experience.’ (p. 3) The increase of non-traditional students in college study and diverse learning coupled with the effort of colleges to provide access, and ensure retention and completion was noted by Kerka, (1989) and Baxter Magolda (1999) as a reason for colleges to provide various opportunities to apply theory to practice, resulting in experiential learning. Kolb and Fry (1975) created a model out of four elements of Kurt Lewin’s reflection of a spiral of steps that consist of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding regarding the effect of the action. The authors noted that the experiential learning circle began at any one of the following points: concrete experience, observation, and reflection, the formation of abstract concepts, and testing in new situations. Kolb (1984) posited that experiential learning theory was rooted in the work of various scholars regarding theories of human learning and development, particularly John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, William James, Carl Jung, Paulo Freire and Carl Rogers. The need to develop a holistic model of the experiential learning process was described by Kolb as relevant to adult development. As students become immersed in the workplace during their studies or simulations like laboratories or professional operations, they gain experiences that enable job placement. According to BSU (2007a) a typical example of immersive learning is NewsLink Indiana at Ball State, where

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the student-run professional news operation allows students to participate in the daily operations of a real-life newsroom. During the full-credit, semester-long experience, students handle all the production duties—reporting, shooting, directing, editing—for live newscasts that air on the local PBS station and NPR affiliate and are posted on the Web. (¶ 2) The Institute for Digital Entertainment and Education (IDEE) at Ball State also provided the opportunity for telecommunications and theatre students to “put their creative ideas to work. They learned from industry experts how to use state-of-the-art cameras and technology to create webisodes and film shots, but those lessons turned into actions when students got into production” (BSU, 2007j, ¶ 4). Kolb and Kolb (2005) defined experiential learning space in experiential learning theory paradigm as attracting and repelling forces (positive and negative valences) of the two poles of the dual dialectics of action/reflection and experiencing/conceptualizing, creating a two dimensional map of the regions of the learning space. An individual’s learning style positions them in one of these regions depending on the equilibrium of forces among action, reflection, experiencing and conceptualizing. (p. 19) The ability to work as a group in the learning process enables the learners to conceptualize ideas and establish standards for future references. Melles (2004) stated “the use of group work in higher education is linked to teamwork skills” (p. 217). The justification of group work in colleges is a reaction to the demands of industry for additional skills for students (Ackermann & Plummer, 1994; Bourner, Hughes, & Bourner, 2001; Mutch, 1998).

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Collaborative Learning Collaborative learning strategies were noted by Love and Love (1996) to “enhance learning by actively incorporating social and affective dynamics between students, and between students and faculty” (¶ 8). The importance of collaboration and practice is crucial to the success of teaching and learning in a classroom. The interaction between the instructor and the students enables both parties to have an understanding of the learning process. It enables students to gain control of their learning as active learners (Kremer & McGuinness, 1998; Leki, 2001). Collaboration was identified by Kellogg (1999) as a source to develop learning communities and impact positively the holistic learning experience of the student. The existence of institutions of higher education is dependent on student learning, thus the need to provide social, economic and intellectual support, which the inclusion of subordinates, peers, superiors and other stakeholders would achieve. Carlsmith and Cooper (2002) stated, “Students worked significantly harder for and learned more from the cooperative learning components than from the traditional lecture and text-based components” (p. 132). Lee, Ng, and Jacobs (1997), however, believed that despite the linking of collaborative learning to improved thinking and problem solving, it was not certain if group work improved learning experience. Kremer and McGuinness (1998) confirmed that the outcome remain “a matter for conjecture” (p. 48). According to MacCallum (1994) collaborative learning varies substantially among students. Participation of students in group work has been noted to be associated with teaching and learning theories. Student-centered learning, experiential learning, collaborative and cooperative

Full document contains 151 pages
Abstract: The Center for Information and Communication Sciences graduate program commenced at Ball State University in 1986 with a specific focus to train graduate students to be leaders in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry. The Center is the manifestation of a vision birthed out of creativity and resourcefulness. This study examined the creative pedagogy approach at CICS based on instruction, social learning culture, professional development, academic achievements, and collaborative interaction among students, faculty, alumni, and colleagues in ICT industries. The distinctiveness of this graduate program that combined in-class and out-of-class learning experiences was the focus of this study. This study employed a qualitative method, specifically a descriptive case study design with the intent to understand and explain the academic, social, and cultural phenomena of the graduate program at CICS. The central research questions of this study focused on the impact of the teaching, learning, social and leadership outcomes of the program. The data collection methods used for this inquiry were semi-structured interviews in combination with evidence from archival document data. The twelve participants were selected through purposive sampling and snowball sampling techniques. The data analysis consisted of open coding techniques that produced eight themes. The findings were organized in relation to the study's three central research questions and indicated that the educational, technical, and social learning experiences of the masters program at CICS impacted the current students and alumni in a variety of ways. All the participants considered the program intense and comprehensive. They also agreed that the program was built around professional development. The existence of elements such as, the Student Social Learning Program (SSLP), teamwork, group projects, close-knit alumni community, well qualified faculty members, enrollment diversity, and student-centered immersive learning made CICS distinct from other programs. The educational philosophy used in the program was described as effective, deliberate, consistent, clear-cut, invasive, multidisciplinary, integrated, and a culture of success. Key recommendations for further studies include study on the feasibility of replicating the success of CICS by adopting their pedagogical philosophies and practices and a comparative study of similar programs.