DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEMS
A KNOWLEDGE-BASED APPROACH
In addition to (or maybe even instead of) having students develop their own systems, an instructor can consider procuring or building systems for the students to view and/or use. This gives students exposure to DSSs from a user's perspective. Indeed, such systems could be made available to students in follow-up, capstone types of courses where they play the roles of decision makers in dealing with case studies or simulated managerial environments. The availability of DSSs in such settings can enhance the realism of the educational experience.
Having settled on the development tool(s), workbook supplement(s), and/or sample decision support system(s), creation of a syllabus is a way of structuring one's thoughts about what the course will accomplish and how it will be accomplished. We recommend that the syllabus should contain a brief course synopsis, a statement of specific course objectives, an explanation of the methods of instruction to be used, a clear indication of how student learning will be evaluated, and a schedule of course activities.
A course synopsis may simply be the official description of the course as stated in the institution's catalog of courses. Or, using that description as a starting point, the synopsis may provide additional detail, offer an updated view, and emphasize certain aspects of the course. Broadly speaking, it should indicate the overall goal of the course, briefly characterize the main topics covered, point out why the course is important to students, identify any special instructional methods to be used, and comment on what background students should have in order to best appreciate the course content.
Having characterized the course in broad terms, the instructor needs to determine more specifically what he/she wants to accomplish. Specific learning objectives may have been established already (e.g., by a curriculum committee) or they may be at the full discretion of the instructor. In any event, the objectives stated in the syllabus should be constructed to answer the question: "By the end of the course, what knowledge, skills, and experiences will each student have gained?" The answer to this question will influence which parts of the textbook are to be covered and how intensively they are to be covered. The objectives must, of course, be consistent with the software and supplemental workbook (if any) selected for the student use. The number of specific objectives will typically be in the 6 to 12 range.
Part of the first class session may be devoted to gathering student ideas about the stated objectives. They may suggest additional objectives that can be incorporated readily in the course. Or, the discussion may suggest that certain objectives should receive a particular emphasis. Near the end of the semester and/or shortly before the students evaluate the course, it can be instructive to spend a bit of class time reviewing the objectives to impress upon students a realization of how far they have progressed.
Having determined what will be accomplished, the instructor needs to settle on how to accomplish the objectives. The methods of instruction will be influenced by institutional constraints, class size, class meeting length, course length, and individual instructor style. Usually, student interest and learning is enhanced by the use of multiple instructional methods. Aside from the traditional assignment of textbook readings and presentation of lectures based on these readings, methods of instruction might include the following:
The syllabus should identify which of these (or other) instructional methods will be used.
The syllabus should clearly explain the grading policies that will be followed in the course. The test bank in this Instructor's Manual provides a starting point for constructing evaluation instruments in the form of quizzes and exams. It consists of over 1000 test items. Other dimensions for gauging student performance include evaluation of their participation in class discussion (e.g., see instructional methods 1 and 2 above), their work on knowledge management exercises (e.g., see instructional method 5), their papers and reports in terms of the quality of both written and verbal presentations (e.g., see instructional methods 6 and 8), and their hands-on system development projects (e.g., see instructional method 4). When evaluating written or verbal aspects of papers, reports, or projects, we are inclined to assess not only the content but also the clarity and organization of the presentation. That is, students are given incentives to work on their communication skills as well as the course content.
The syllabus should contain a planned schedule of activities, including an indication of the timing for coverage of the textbook's contents. Generally, we suggest the book's contents be covered in sequence, realizing that some material may be skipped or skimmed to meet an instructor's objectives. The textbook's preface gives some guidance along these lines, as well as suggestions about pacing, from the perspectives of four different course offerings.
Decision Support Systems and Knowledge Management
Professor xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Course #: xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Office: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Spring 1996
Phone: xxx-xxxx Day/Time: MW/4:30-5:45
Office Hours: xxxxxxxxxxx and by appointment Room: xxxx-xxx
This course is designed to foster a comprehensive understanding of decision support system (DSS) concepts and possibilities, impart practical DSS development skills, and point out the important role these systems play in business today. Such an understanding is valuable for prospective application developers, managers of business computing technology, and decision makers. Coverage includes the DSS field's historic roots, its theoretical foundations, various DSS applications, contexts for DSS usage, and multiparticipant decision support systems. The focus is on how techniques for managing knowledge can be applied, enhanced, extended, and integrated in the development of computer based DSSs. Each student will work on a project to develop a decision support system. Familiarity with business problems, computers, and common knowledge management techniques is assumed.
Methods of Instruction
Lectures: Attendance to all lectures is strongly recommended and active participation is encouraged. A set of transparency masters used in lectures is available for duplication. You should prepare for class by reading the assigned materials and developing answers to the application case questions at the ends of chapters.
Project: You will develop a prototype decision support system in an application area of your own choosing. This includes analysis, design, and implementation of the DSS. You will select the development tool that furnishes needed knowledge management techniques. In most cases, this will be a tool about which you already have a working knowledge. A written prospectus describing your project will be submitted for review and approval.
Exams: There will be three exams covering lectures and discussions.
Presentations: You will make two presentations in class. The first will be a presentation of your project prospectus. The second will be a presentation/demonstration of the DSS prototype you develop.
To receive full credit, work must be submitted/presented by the assigned date. There is a reduction of 10% of the total credit for each day it is late. There are no make-up exams without prior consent of the instructor.
Graded work will receive a numeric score reflecting the quality of performance. Relative weights assigned to graded work are as follows:
The anticipated schedule of classroom activities is shown below. Exam dates may vary slightly from the scheduled times, but will be announced at least one week in advance. You are expected to have read the indicated materials in advance of the corresponding class sections. Exact dates for submitting project proposals and final project reports will be announced in class.