Using the National Collegiate Conference as a focal point for an AITP student chapter’s annual activities Johnny Snyder [email protected] Gayla Jo Slauson [email protected] Bill Jackson [email protected] Telicia Chaffin [email protected] Department of Business- Computer Information Systems Mesa State College 1100 North Ave Grand Junction, Colorado 81501 USA Abstract Getting students to participate in out-of-class activities seems to be increasingly difficult in the 21st century due to their combination of work schedules, family responsibilities, and apathy. This paper addresses how one Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) student chapter uses the NCC as a focal point for generating interest in club activities and incorporates out-of-class learning experiences for the student members into the monthly meetings to enhance their educational experience. Also addressed are the curriculum enhancements that facilitate the out-of-class learning experiences, the monthly meetings and an annual calendar for planning purposes. Keywords: student clubs, Association of Information Technology Professionals, out-of-class learning experience 1. INTRODUCTION Although thousands of students, faculty sponsors, exhibitors and guests have participated in the National Collegiate Conference (NCC) throughout the years (731 attendees in 2007, 820 attendees in 2006, 729 attendees in 2005 and a record 865 attendees in 2001), (AITP 11th, 2006) there has been an absence in the literature about the planning and training by student chapters that occurs each year in preparation for the conference and how these experiences can benefit the learning environment. There are, however, articles that compare student involvement to motivation and relate persistence in college to student involvement. (Astin, 1999) One of the goals of this paper is to illustrate how student involvement can be built throughout the year by establishing the NCC as the culmination of year-long activities. This involvement begins with the last student chapter meeting of the academic year and continues throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. This building process involves a partnership between faculty, students, and the institution, and can be considered a learning community or a collaborative learning environment (Barros & Verdejo, 2000). The learning community surrounding the AITP student chapter can also address the growth of the student members through the three theories of pedagogy as described in Astin (1999):  The Subject-Matter Theory (SMT) – This is the theory that students learn best when exposed to the right subject matter, presented by an expert (the faculty member or a working professional). This can be addressed in monthly chapter meetings by incorporating educational components into the meetings. This component can be presented by a faculty member, a student member, or a guest speaker. These presentations can allow the faculty to explore educational issues or topics that might not appear in the classroom, but are germane to the study of information systems. The students benefit by exploring and presenting topics of interest to them in a non-threatening (not graded) environment, re-enforcing or enhancing their research and presentation skills. Students also benefit by listening to working professionals who can guide and advise the students on what to expect upon their entrance into the workforce.  The Resource Theory (RT) – This theory maintains that when enough resources are brought together in one place student learning and development will occur. This can be facilitated when students and faculty (the two most critical resources in a learning environment) interact in a less formal environment than the classroom. With limited resources (as in most student clubs) creativity is crucial. Faculty mentoring for competitions, brown bag seminars and study sessions, and student led discussions all contribute to the overall success of the student club’s preparation for the NCC. These interactions also provide ways to decrease the student/faculty ratio, a popular metric for measuring higher education.  The Individualized (Eclectic) Theory (IET) – This approach emphasizes elective learning (rather than required coursework) by the student. The NCC as a focal point enables the student to select area(s) of interest in which to prepare and compete. Attending the NCC as well as regional meetings of the AITP further enhances the ind

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