Are Information Systems Students In Their Right Minds?

Document Type

Book Chapter


Business and Public Management






This article was originally published as: Benson, S. & Standing, C. (2002). Are Information Systems Students in their Right Minds? In Dadashzadeh, M., Saber, A., & Saber, S. (Eds.) Information Technology Education in the New Millennium. Hershey: IGI Global. 70-80 pp.


The "IS skills debate" still persists in being a commonly researched area. In this paper we examine the related issue of fundamental thinking styles and the implications for IS course design and delivery. In recent decades Sperry's work on "split brain" 1 patients has been hijacked by popular psychology. 2 The underlying thesis of many of the publications we surveyed reduces to “find out whether you are right or left brained and learn to draw on your whole brain”. We decided that it would be interesting to carry out an initial investigation into the left-right brain orientation of our students and curriculum. Given the technical biases and associations of the Information Systems discipline, our initial expectation was to find a high degree of logical, left brained orientation in our student sample. We were surprised to find the contrary result in that right brained oriented students outnumbered left brained oriented students by 3:1, especially in view of the fact that our curriculum had a definite left brain bias. Our chapter outlines the left-right brain divide and questions the validity of this division from neurophysiological perspectives. We discuss the practical implications of the exercise; i.e. is it worthwhile trying to get student to change their mode of operation or is it more productive to have them control their own learning in an adaptive manner? Finally, we identify several areas for future research.

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