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Assessment of student learning in MBA programs: A study of Higher Learning Commission accredited institutions

Marilyn A Holmgren, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study was undertaken to identify methods used to assess student learning in MBA programs offered at Higher Learning Commission-accredited colleges and universities. The only similar study was reported by Edwards and Brannen (1990) based on data collected from 333 responding institutions during the late 1980s. ^ The current study sought relevant data on student learning assessment methods and programs from 253 MBA program administrators by using a researcher developed two-section 11-item survey, following the Tailored Design Method (Dillman, 2000). The response rate was 40.9% (N = 103). ^ Survey results identified the direct and indirect assessment methods currently used in MBA programs. To determine if specific institutional characteristics related to these assessment methods, three independent variables (specialized business program accreditation, Carnegie Basic Classification description (The Carnegie Foundation, 2007a), and Carnegie Control attribute (The Carnegie Foundation, 2007b)) and 24 direct and indirect assessment methods (dependent variables) were examined. Only seven of the 24 assessment methods were statistically significant for at least one of the selected independent variables. Therefore, use of specific assessment methods was not substantially different among MBA programs, based on institutional characteristics. ^ Qualitative comments identified regional and specialized program accreditation as encouraging assessment program development, implementation, and maintenance. Comments also identified lack of institutional resources and faculty issues as discouraging assessment program efforts. Most respondents believed their assessment efforts had resulted in improved student learning; citing curricular and instructional improvements, and specific evidence of enhanced student learning. ^ In addition, fewer Baccalaureate and Doctorate-granting Universities responded to the survey than Master's Colleges & Universities and Special Focus Institutions. ^ There were notable lacuna in the kinds of responding institutions and that issue needs attention in future research. Also, this study uncovered a need for in-depth qualitative research on why selected methods of assessment were employed, how such indices revealed desired evidence of student learning, and if such information on student learning and assessment efforts would be consistent with the findings reported in this research. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Holmgren, Marilyn A, "Assessment of student learning in MBA programs: A study of Higher Learning Commission accredited institutions" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3303692.