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Events that lead university students to change their major to Information Systems: A retroductive South African case

South African Computer Journal. 2016;28(1) DOI 10.18489/sacj.v28i1.367


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: South African Computer Journal

ISSN: 1015-7999 (Print); 2313-7835 (Online)

Publisher: South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists

Society/Institution: SAICSIT

LCC Subject Category: Technology: Technology (General): Industrial engineering. Management engineering: Management information systems | Science: Mathematics: Instruments and machines: Electronic computers. Computer science

Country of publisher: South Africa

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Lisa Florence Seymour (University of Cape Town)

Thabang Serumola (University of Cape Town)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Shortage of computing skills is a global concern as it affects national development and business success. Yet, despite high job availability and high salaries in computing professions, insufficient numbers of students are choosing to study the various computing disciplines. This South African study looks at the Information Systems (IS) major which is misunderstood by high school students. This retroductive case study identifies the events which lead students to change their major to IS. The study confirms the importance of interest in a major as well as the perceived high value of a major, which feature as dominant factors in the literature. Yet these are not the initial events that lead to students changing their major to IS. Events that initiate the process include losing passion for a previous major, experiencing difficulty in a previous major as well as enjoying the introductory IS course. The paper has practical advice for IS Departments and argues for a generic first year for students as well as a focus on enjoyment and skills aligned to IS professional practice in introductory IS courses. These findings can be generalised to other majors and, hence, the theoretical contribution adds to the literature on career choice in general.