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


  • Lisa Florence Seymour University of Cape Town
  • Thabang Serumola University of Cape Town



ICT skills, Information systems careers, IS major, computing curricula


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.

Author Biographies

Lisa Florence Seymour, University of Cape Town

Associate Professor, Department of Information Systems

Thabang Serumola, University of Cape Town

Honours Graduate, Department of Information Systems






Research Papers (general)