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CIS 150 - Introduction to Computing

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What is the Introduction to Computing (CIS 150) course?

The CIS 150 class at Grand Valley State University facilitates weeks of practice with Office applications along with faculty lead exploration of modern technology concepts. Catalog description: Basic principles of computing, including study of the major co mponents of a computer system. Introduction to software packages such as word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and languages. Sample Course Syllabus | Syllabus of Record | Student College Success OER Guide | Journal Article about CIS150 | Application of Gamification in STEM Intro Courses | Student Videos about the Class | CIS150 Pedagogy | Amazon Alexa Skill | Apple iTunesU Study Guide

Why should I take CIS 150 at GVSU?


Course Topics:
Module 1Module 2Module 3


  1. What does it mean to be "computer literate"?
  2. How can becoming computer literate help you in a career?
  3. What exactly is a computer, and what are its four main functions?
  4. What is the difference between data and information?
  5. What are bits and bytes, and how are they measured?
  6. What's on the motherboard?
  7. How do I set up my computer to avoid strain and injury?


  1. Application Software: Programs That Let You Work and Play
  2. System Software: The Operating System, Utility Programs, and File Management
  3. Understanding and Assessing Hardware: Evaluating Your System
  4. Networking: Connecting Computing Devices


  1. Managing a Digital Lifestyle: Media and Ethics
  2. Securing Your System: Protecting Your Digital Data and Devices
  3. Software Programming
  4. Databases and Information Systems
  5. Networking and Security in the Business World
  6. How the Internet Works

Hands-on experience and skills development with Microsoft Word:

  1. Navigate through a document using the Navigation pane
  2. Apply font attributes
  3. Format text with styles
  4. Review the MLA style for research papers
  5. Format paragraphs
  6. Insert and modify page numbers
  7. Create citations
  8. Create and update a bibliography

Hands-on experience and skills development with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

  1. Perform a what-if analysis
  2. Use relative and absolute cell references
  3. Work with dates and Date functions
  4. Work with Logical functions
  5. Use the PMT function to calculate a loan payment
  6. Create an embedded pie chart
  7. Modify the chart's data source
  8. Create a histogram and Pareto chart
  9. Add sparklines to a worksheet
  10. Create PivotTables and PivotCharts based on business data

Hands-on experience and skills development with Microsoft Access Databases:

  1. Learn the guidelines for designing databases and setting field properties
  2. Create a table in Design view
  3. Define fields, set field properties, and specify a table's primary key
  4. Import data from Excel
  5. Import an existing table structure
  6. Add fields to a table with the Data Type gallery
  7. Define a relationship between two tables
  8. Find and maintain data using a form
  9. Preview and print selected form records
  10. Create a form with a main form and a subform
  11. Change the alignment of field values on a report
  12. Apply conditional formatting in a report

Course Objectives:
Computer Concepts Application Tools
Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of computers with emphasis on the personal computer including:
Digital Devices: hardware components, input, output, storage, memory
Software: operating systems and applications
The Web: basics, browsers, security
Stereotype threat in adoption of technology
Networks: Internet control, file sharing, architecture, topology
Information Systems: enterprise, e-commerce, system analysis and development
Digital Security: authentication, malware, online intrusions, ethics
Databases: application data tools, big data, design
Programming: basics, tools, types of programming
Demonstrate computer skills performing word processing, spreadsheet analysis, and database development.

Design and create a web site.

Research behind why this class is important to college students:

As the academic world and the workplace slowly come to terms with the myth of the digital natives, studies warn about negative consequences in assuming students have digital skills simply because they are of a younger generation (Kirschner & Bruyckere, 2017).  A global research in 33 developed countries reported that only 5% of general population possesses high computer-related skills and only 30% can address medium-complexity tasks (OECD, 2016).  In another study, while 83% of millennials report sleeping with their smartphones, 58% have poor skills in solving problems with technology and out of 19 countries examined in the study the U.S. millennials ranked last.

The ability to use technology across all disciplines is a vital 21st century skill.  Even simple technology skills, such as use of Microsoft Excel, are in great demand in most middle-skill jobs.  "Effectively, entire segments of the U.S. economy are off-limits to people who don't have basic digital skills" (Soergel, 2015). In addition, some companies doing research in the job market conclude that basic knowledge of computer coding will be required across many industries. "To land a good job in the 21st century job market you need to learn how to code" (Risen, 2016).

The STEM industry is booming and qualified candidates are needed.  The 2016 U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index reported a 28% growth since 2000 in STEM jobs compared to 6% in other fields (Neuhauser & Cook, 2016).  However, at the academic level only 33% of U.S. students in the fourth grade and 26% of students in eighth grade met the learning objectives in mathematics (National Research Council, 2012).  Other reports indicated that well-qualified students, with some estimated potential to be leaders in STEM industries, purposely abstained from careers in STEM (Chen & Soldner, 2013).  In addition, while 28% of students initially chose a STEM major in four-year schools, 48% of bachelor's degree candidates left the STEM major within the first two years and 69% of associate's degree candidates.

While faculty are often focused on producing high-quality graduates, they also contributed to a high level of attrition in STEM fields in academically weaker students (Christe, 2013).  Faculty sometimes viewed student withdrawal from STEM majors as a sign of successful instruction.  The STEM introductory courses were viewed as a gatekeeping process to spare unfit students from the rigors of scientific work.

Students leave STEM majors for many reasons.  Problems such as low achievement, student boredom, and alienation, along with high dropout rates were linked to engagement (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004; Swap & Walter, 2015). Other reasons mentioned in a White House report included experiencing an uninviting atmosphere, participating in weed-out classes, and discovering that courses demonstrated no relevancy (Lander & Gates, 2010).  Student engagement was shown to be linked statistically to the rate of student graduation (Price & Tovar, 2014).

Therefore, this introductory course into the field of technology will help students explore computing principles by the use of active learning, gamification (Machajewski, 2017), or modern lectures to engage students and improve retention. Students will develop computational thinking skills, such as using computational tools to analyze and study data. The instructional design of the course was recognized with Blackboard Exemplary Course Award and publicized in a number of articles in 2016, 2017, 2018.


Chen, X., & Soldner, M. (2013). STEM attrition: College students' paths into and out of STEM fields: Statistical analysis report. (NCES 2014-001). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved from

Christe, B. (2013). The Importance of Faculty-Student Connections in STEM Disciplines: A Literature Review. Journal Of STEM Education: Innovations And Research, 14(3), 22-26.

Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., and Paris, A. (2004). School engagement: potential of the concept: state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74, 59-119.

Kirschner, P., Bruyckere, P. (2017). The myths of the digital native and the multitasker, Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 67, 2017, Pages 135-142, ISSN 0742-051X,  Retrieved from

Lander, E. S., & Gates, S. J. (2010). Prepare and inspire. Science (New York, N.Y.), 330(October), 151.

Machajewski, S. (2017). Gamification Strategies in a Hybrid Exemplary College Course.International Journal Of Educational Technology, 4(3), 1-16. Retrieved from

National Research Council NRC. (2012). Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education: A Nation Advancing? Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Neuhauser, A., Cook, L. (2016).  U.S. News/Raytheon Annual STEM Index. U. S, News and World Report.

OECD (2016), Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Publishing, Paris.  DOI:

Price, D. V. and Tovar, E. (2014) Student Engagement and Institutional Graduation Rates: Identifying High-Impact Educational Practices for Community Colleges, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, Vol 38, No 9, pp 766-782.

Risen, T. (2016). "Coding Isn't Just for Coders Anymore." U.S. News. Retrieved from

Soergel, A. (2015). "Want a Better Job? Master Microsoft Excel." U.S. News. Retrieved from

Swap, R. J., & Walter, J. A. (2015). An Approach to Engaging Students in a Large-Enrollment, Introductory STEM College Course. Journal Of The Scholarship Of Teaching And Learning, 15(5), 1-21.