INLS 582_003, Systems Analysis

Home Syllabus Schedule Assignments Useful Information


Rationale and Approach Policies Grading

Rationale and Approach
Systems Analysis is all about problem solving.
These are the fundamental questions whether you're fixing a broken system, adding new functionality to an existing system, or designing an entirely new system.
The purpose of this course is to help you gain the knowledge, tools, and skills you need to answer these questions and design effective information systems.

The material we cover includes the theories that help explain information systems and people's interaction with them, tools and techniques for analysis and design, and best practices for systems analysis projects. Readings include research articles, case studies, and documentation for specific modeling techniques. A major part of the work for this class is analyzing an information system problem and designing a solution for a real client. This group project gives real-life experience in information system problem solving. Individual assignments provide additional practice on specific techniques.

Your work for this class falls into 3 categories: 1) preparation for class, 2) in-class activities, and 3) individual and group assignments. Your preparation for each class meeting is the key to getting the most out of each class's activities.

The schedule describes what you should do to prepare for each class meeting, including reading, practicing skills or techniques, and thinking. You are welcome to work together to prepare for each class.


Chapters from the textbook.
Documentation or manuals for specific models and analysis techniques.
Research papers, issue articles, and case studies.
…about the readings. What interests/surprises/informs/challenges you?
…about the questions I pose for you. These will often form the basis of class discussion.
…about what questions you would pose for discussion. These will also be part of the conversation.
…about questions you have on the material that you would like me to address in class. Be prepared to ask -- don't assume I'll answer an unasked question.

In-class activities
Class meetings will typically consist of 3 sections.

Business -- Operational questions, assignments, and other "class infrastructure".
Instruction --I will provide highlights of the material for the day, and walk through examples. This is also your opportunity to ask questions from the reading..
    a) Exercises. We will work on these together, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches or answers. I will provide help and feedback as needed.
    b) Discussions of questions, articles, case studies, and other issues, in small groups, project groups, and/or the full class.

Individual assignments will provide more opportunities for practicing specific skills, and let you demonstrate to me what you have learned.
Team assignments are the deliverables for your project.

Helpful hints
By the end of the course, I hope you will have learned the fundamentals of systems analysis and design, developed an arsenal of tools and techniques as well as the knowledge of when to use them, and produced a proposal that will solve an information problem for a real client.  Information system problems are pervasive in our society: what you learn here may help you in many aspects of your future endeavors.


Policies on Academic Integrity and Diversity
Chapel Hill has had a student-administered honor system and judicial system for over 100 years. Because academic honesty and the development and nurturing of trust and trustworthiness are important to all of us as individuals, and are encouraged and promoted by the honor system, this is a most significant University tradition. You are responsible for being familiar with the UNC-CH Honor System. In support of the University's diversity goals and the mission of the School of Information and Library Science, SILS embraces diversity as an ethical and societal value. We broadly define diversity to include race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, religion, social class, age, sexual orientation and physical and learning ability. As an academic community committed to preparing our graduates to be leaders in an increasingly multicultural and global society we strive to:
The statement represents a commitment of resources to the development and maintenance of an academic environment that is open, representative, reflective, and committed to the concepts of equity and fairness.

Electronic Devices in Class
Course Communications
 Course website
The official course website is at
The website will contain the course syllabus and schedule.

Course announcements
Announcements will be posted on Sakai, and usually also sent via email to each student's email address of record. However, it is the responsibility of every student to check the Sakai site regularly for announcements and messages.


Email is the best way to contact me.
Note that I receive a large amount of email and while I try to reply to student emails within 48 hours, there are times that it may take me 2-3 days to reply. Therefore, it is important that you get started on assignments early, so there is time for me to respond to any questions you may have. I cannot guarantee that I will be able to answer last-minute questions (e.g., within 2 days of the assignment due date).

Office hours
My office hours are Monday and Wednesday, 9:30-10:30. Please stop by if you have questions or want to discuss class, assignments, etc. If office hours are not convenient for you, or you want to discuss something that will take more than a few minutes, please make an appointment with me. You can schedule an appointment by email, or immediately before or after class.

All enrolled students should have access to the UNC Sakai site for this course.

Course materials

All materials will be stored in Sakai. The course syllabus, schedule, and information about tools and other resources will be there at the beginning of the semester. Materials for each topic, including slides, exercises, and assignments, will be added during the semester.

Submitting assignments
In order for you to receive credit for an assignment, it must be submitted using the Sakai "Assignments" section. In my experience, Sakai is a reliable method for submitting assignments. It is the responsibility of each student to make sure they have access to Sakai and can submit assignments when they are due.

If for some reason you are unable to submit an assignment to Sakai, as a last resort you may email it to me along with a note about the problem you encountered. Then, as soon as you are able to, it is your responsibility to submit the exact same assignment to Sakai. The email serves as a record that you tried to submit the assignment on time, but to receive credit, your assignment must be uploaded to Sakai.

Detailed instructions for submitting assignments are in Sakai resources.

Grading Policies
All grades will be recorded in the Sakai Gradebook.

The following grade scale will be used AS A GUIDELINE (subject to any curve) for undergraduate students. (Definitions are from the Office of the University Registrar; underlining is my own.)
A 90-100%
Mastery of course content at the highest level of attainment that can reasonably be expected of students at a given stage of development. The A grade states clearly that the students have shown such outstanding promise in the aspect of the discipline under study that he/she may be strongly encouraged to continue.
B 80-89.9%
Strong performance demonstrating a high level of attainment for a student at a given stage of development. The B grade states that the student has shown solid promise in the aspect of the discipline under study.
C 70-79.9%
A totally acceptable performance demonstrating an adequate level of attainment for a student at a given stage of development. The C grade states that, while not yet showing unusual promise, the student may continue to study in the discipline with reasonable hope of intellectual development.
D 60-69.9%
A marginal performance in the required exercises demonstrating a minimal passing level of attainment. A student has given no evidence of prospective growth in the discipline; an accumulation of D grades should be taken to mean that the student would be well advised not to continue in the academic field.
F 0-59.9%
For whatever reason, an unacceptable performance. The F grade indicates that the student's performance in the required exercises has revealed almost no understanding of the course content. A grade of F should warrant an advisor's questioning whether the student may suitably register for further study in the discipline before remedial work is undertaken.

The following grade scale will be used AS A GUIDELINE (subject to any curve) for graduate students.
(Definitions are from the Office of the University Registrar)
H 95-99%       High Pass
P 80-94.9%    Pass
L 70-79.9%    Low Pass
F 0-69.9%      Fail

Your grade will be based on individual assignments (40%), a team project (45%), and class and team participation (15%).

Individual work
Problem definition: 10%
Work models: 20%
Entity-relation diagram: 10%

Team project work
Information gathering plan: 10%
Presentation to class/client: 10%
Final specifications: 25%

Participation: 15%
Leading a case study discussion group: 2%
Participation in in-class activities and discussions: 8%
Participation in team project: 5%

This page was last modified on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, by Tim Shearer.
Address questions and comments about this page to Tim Shearer at tshearer at email dot unc dot edu.

Content © Stephanie W. Haas. All rights reserved.