Going Global with Their Research

PROVO, Utah – Mar 16, 2021 – When BYU Marriott School of Business information systems (IS) students Madison Corbin and Cherileigh Leavitt first imagined presenting their research paper at the 2021 Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, they never thought that they would present from the comfort of their homes at eleven o’clock at night. Despite the unexpected setting, writing and presenting the paper taught both students invaluable lessons about the research process.

While the two women presented research at the conference in January 2021, the research process began nearly a year prior. In February 2020, BYU Marriott professor of information systems Greg Anderson asked Corbin and Leavitt to conduct a research experiment analyzing the effectiveness of INTEX, a weeklong experience unique to BYU Marriott’s IS program. 

“INTEX is a final project that each IS student has in their junior year at the end of the fall and winter semesters,” Leavitt explains. “Students are put into teams and given a business-related case or problem that is unique to that semester. We utilize all of the concepts that we’ve learned in our classes throughout that semester to solve the problem. INTEX helps prepare us for the workforce by presenting us with a problem that requires applying our knowledge and working together in a group.”

Leavitt and Corbin were involved in every aspect of the research process, including brainstorming methods of data collection, sorting through data, and writing the paper. “Maddy and I started out by brainstorming and asking, ‘How are we going to measure the effectiveness of INTEX?’” says Leavitt, a first-year MISM student from Gunlock, Utah. “Madison and I crafted a survey with several questions about the INTEX experience, such as what the participants took away from the experience and what skills they developed as a result.” 

The two of them reached out to several students, faculty, and alumni, and asked them to answer the questionnaire. Leavitt explained that one of the most exciting parts of the research process was reading all of the data and seeing what students and alumni had to say about INTEX.

Corbin, a junior in the IS program from Franklin, Tennessee, shares Leavitt’s position that reading through the questionnaire answers was one of the more enjoyable parts of the research process. “When Cherileigh and I first started, I hadn’t gone through the INTEX experience yet,” she says. “Reading other people’s memories of INTEX helped me feel more excited to do it, because almost everyone loved it.” The duo’s research data showed that over 97 percent of the participants believed INTEX was a positive, impactful experience that benefited them later on in their careers.

After the students finished collecting and sorting through the surveys, they analyzed the results and contemplated how to organize the paper. Both students experienced frustration throughout the writing process, but Corbin believes the process taught them important skills. “The writing and revision process challenged me,” she says. “When we finished, I could see the value in finishing the paper. I think in any type of project, it’s easy to become frustrated, but your hard work feels worthwhile once you actually finish the project and recognize that you’ve accomplished something.”

After completing the paper, Corbin and Leavitt submitted their research to the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, the longest-running conference for information technology management. Their submission was approved, and they were asked to prepare a short presentation to present at the conference on 5 January 2021. “Since the conference was international, and due to the time zone difference between Utah and Hawaii, we experienced difficulty coordinating a time to present,” Leavitt says. “We ultimately ended up presenting at 11 p.m., which was a fun and unique experience.”

Anderson, who supervised the project, shares that the combination of both students’ strengths ultimately led to the team’s success at the conference. “Madison and Cherileigh were instrumental in making this research happen,” he says. Anderson believes that both women brought unique insights into the INTEX research, with Leavitt previously completing INTEX and Corbin preparing for it. 

“Their passion, drive, and quest for excellence in their work was indispensable for the success of this presentation,” Anderson says. “They presented the paper at one of our top information systems conferences, where distinguished academics and PhD candidates present their research. Impressively, their research was accepted and presented to experienced professors from around the world.”

The students’ research was not only presented to experienced professors but also alongside them—in fact, the two BYU Marriott students were likely the youngest presenters at the conference. “The other presenters were PhD students and professors, which was intimidating, but also felt validating that our efforts were seen on a similar level as those who had graduate degrees or were already years into their careers,” says Leavitt. 

“Realizing how young we were in comparison to the other presenters made me feel proud to be there,” adds Corbin. “We invested countless hours into the project, and our hard work paid off. I learned many news skills about research and how to work with another person to accomplish something amazing.”

Information systems junior Madison Corbin. Photo courtesy of Madison Corbin.
Information systems junior Madison Corbin. Photo courtesy of Madison Corbin.
First-year MISM student Cherileigh Leavitt. Photo courtesy of Cherileigh Leavitt.
First-year MISM student Cherileigh Leavitt. Photo courtesy of Cherileigh Leavitt.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert