CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Gertrude W Abramson

Committee Member

Helen L St. Aubin

Committee Member

Cordelia R Twomey

Abstract

Students invest a great deal of time, effort, and capital to obtain the MBA credential that they believe will provide them with the skills necessary to succeed in business. They expect such skills to position them for better job opportunities, salary increases, and a faster track to promotion up the corporate ladder. It is an investment that should yield rewards.

However, the value of an MBA is open to skepticism by some. Critics have questioned the appropriateness of the skills that have become part of the typical curriculum and the ability of business programs to keep pace with a changing business environment. While students continue to believe in the value of the MBA, there is little current evidence to determine if the perception of employers toward its value has changed.

Historical evidence demonstrates negative bias by some employers toward non-traditional degrees, such as those offered by online programs, due to a perception of student isolation and lack of collaboration in the online learning community. As technology advances and some of these perception issues are addressed, the lines between traditional and non-traditional program formats have become blurred. Consequently, demand for online programs, and the flexibility that they offer, has been strong. There is recent evidence that the public is more accepting of the non-traditional programs.

This investigation was designed to expand the learning environment knowledge base. Employers and MBA graduates were queried on the importance and mastery of skills necessary in the workplace, the environment, traditional and non-traditional, and the rewards. The goal was to ascertain how the MBA is currently valued, and how the choice of program has met expectations.

Using a cross-sectional survey design employing a questionnaire, alumni of MBA programs and employers were surveyed. Both groups identified problem solving, communication, and decision-making as the most essential skills that MBAs should bring to the workplace, and mastery of those skills was generally viewed as positive. Online learning was viewed positively, although employers continue to prefer on-campus learning. The role of technology was viewed by alumni as enhancing the online experience by facilitating interactivity. Overall, most were positive about the MBA experience and its rewards, but were less enthusiastic about the cost-benefit.

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