Faculty Scholarship 1994 - Present

Outcomes Assessment: Perception Vs. Reality for Statistics in an MBA Keystone Course

A perennial concern in the MBA curriculum is how to achieve integration of a wide range of disciplines and knowledge, which a manager must understand in order to function competently. The traditional framework for a MBA curriculum consists of a series of courses in accounting, finance, organizational behavior, production management, business policy and strategy, marketing, management information systems, business and society, ethics, law, and statistics. At an eastern state university, a new course was developed and presented as a "keystone course" in which skills, tools, and issues necessary for further study were to be developed and extended. This keystone course was intended to be the first course in the MBA program and provided a common starting point for all students. On the first day of class, students completed a questionnaire in which they stated how comfortable they felt in their knowledge of and ability to use statistical analysis in business administration. During the semester, after 12 hours of lecture and lab work, the enrolled students were given a test on statistics, which counted as ten percent of their course grade. On the last day of class, the 27 remaining students completed a questionnaire with many of the same questions they answered the first class. Questions related to student comfort with the use of statistical and correlational analysis were deemed measures of student confidence in their statistics knowledge and skill. The difference between the initial and the final measures of confidence are described as the change in confidence. After reviewing the objectives and expectations for this new course and the new integrated framework, the researchers focus on the factors that may have influenced the change in the student's confidence in their statistical skills. Based on the research findings, the researchers draw conclusions about the antecedents for perceived success in learning statistics in this new framework as well as suggesting strategies for improving the perception of learning among students. The impact of this new learning format on learning outcomes, assessment, and student perceptions is discussed.