MBA admissions requirements as predictors of motivational beliefs and self-regulatory strategies in self-selected online MBA students
Driven by a variety of factors, online learning has continued to grow at an unprecedented rate. A Sloan Foundation report issued in January of 2010 indicated that in 2009, 4.6 million students took at least one online class, an increase in 17% over 2008. Graduate business education, and more specifically, Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs have responded to this growth and other drivers such as globalization, institutional competition and student demand by leveraging the online platform more extensively. Because of the continued growth of online programs, there is an ongoing need to better understand the motivational beliefs and self-regulatory strategies students utilize to achieve academic success. Self-regulation is a social-cognitive construct supported by several decades of research, which posits that students engage in a self-directive process to transform their mental abilities into academic skills. Online MBA students balance work, family, business travel and other life events while pursuing their degree. Their ability to balance life events while succeeding academically suggests they possess the capacity for academic self-regulation. Can admissions requirements that are already in place provide insight into how students' manage their academic self-regulation? This study examined the relationship between the MBA admissions requirements of Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) total score, GMAT verbal score and years of work experience to determine if they were predictive of the student's motivational beliefs and self-regulatory learning strategies. GMAT scores and years of work experience are often thought to be predictors of student success in MBA programs. Self-selected online MBA students (n = 130) completed the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire during the final week of Organization Theory and Behavior, a core course in the MBA program. Analysis indicated that the MBA admissions requirements of GMAT total score, GMAT verbal score, and years of work experience were not reliable predictors of motivational beliefs and self-regulatory strategies. The findings indicate that while admissions criteria may be predictive of student success in the overall program, they provide little insight about how students manage their motivational beliefs and self-regulatory strategies while participating in their courses.