How do management information systems (MIS) support learning in further education colleges (FE)?
This research investigated the ways in which Management Information Systems (MIS) support learning in FE colleges, based on an analysis of data deriving from respondents in three colleges. The study has adopted Weick’s (1995) theory of Interpretive Sensemaking (SM) as an underpinning theory to explore teacher and managerial responses to discourses of using data to inform decisions. The study is qualitative in nature and uses interviews, documents, and participant observation data, to understand and explain social phenomena. A case study methodology is used in this study as it provides an opportunity for in depth analysis of the role of MIS using various sources and methods of investigation.\ud \ud Two methods of data collection are used. The first data collection method used in this study is documentary collation and analysis. The document sources include sets of policy and procedure texts. The documentary analysis also includes the internal reports generated by MIS software or provided by MIS staff on schedule. The second method of data collection employed in the study is interviews. The interviews data collected are from one to one semi structured interviews and focus groups. In total 60 members of staff were interviewed from which 20 participants were interviewed in focus groups.\ud \ud The study suggests that the main providers of data come from MIS services in colleges. MIS provide tools to make the data available for practitioners to use on a daily basis to support learning. The study suggests that there are some barriers which do not help practitioners to use the data effectively in order to improve learning in FE colleges. This study reveals a number of recommendations for FE colleges to embrace to improve the use of data in decision making and learning: easy access to data, data integration, good communication, professional development, collaboration, motivation to use data, available support in place, purpose to use data, data quality, useful and user friendly software tools, and ownership of data.\ud \ud Additionally two original frameworks have been evolved, a framework for effective MIS in FE colleges and a framework for steps to improve the effective use of data in support of education and learning. Both frameworks can be adopted and implemented easily in FE colleges and can enable educators to support learning and monitor success and achievements effectively.
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