Mansfield University s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MU MAOL): An Initial Assessment

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1 Mansfield University s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MU MAOL): An Initial Assessment Anne Lavancher M.A., Mansfield University, 2011 Research Project Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for ORL 5550 Organizational Research and Evaluation Mansfield University Spring ORL

2 Background 2006 MU makes Leadership Development its official brand Programs established: Mountaineer Leadership Program, the Outdoor Recreation Leadership undergraduate concentration, the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and the Leadership Studies minor (among others) 2009 the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership was developed and submitted for approval from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors (BOG). Once approved by the BOG, a MAOL program director was hired Fall 2009, the 1 st cohort of the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) begins classes Goal: to meet the need to build socially responsible foundations for critical lifelong leadership, which become more poignant as one's career develops over time (Mansfield University, 2009)

3 Program Description An interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership is an online program that will enable students in the region and elsewhere to enhance their knowledge about leadership and apply leadership skills across a variety of settings (M.A. Organizational Leadership - Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, 2/20/11, para. 1). Literature Review A review of relevant literature provided information concerning academic program review by identifying leadership and management, determining the functions of an interdisciplinary program and program sustainability (Bridgeforth, 2005; Colvin, 2003; Simpson, 2009; Stanley, 2006). Literature also explored program effectiveness through outcomes of learning objects, retention and graduation rates, and student satisfaction as a function of program sustainability (Andenoro, 2005; Education Oasis - Teaching Resources for Educators, 2004; Hernon, 2004; McBroom, 2008; Schneider, 2007).

4 Problem Statement Given the relative newness of MU s MAOL program, aggregate student perception of program quality, offering, and rigor is unknown Purpose To acquire an initial assessment of student perception of MU s MAOL program To determine if the curriculum structure and offering is satisfactory to current/past students If not, what changes need to be made Research Question Does the Mansfield University MAOL program curriculum provide instruction that facilitates student achievement of the program learning objectives?

5 Research Methods Quantitative study using survey design Research processes included: An exploration of the program s development to have a clear understanding of administration s original intent Survey of students and analysis of results A study of established organizational leadership programs to determine the applied preference of organizational leadership curriculum

6 Survey Design As the MAOL program does not specifically define leadership, we assume the definition is identified in the program s collective learning objectives. It is from these learning objectives that individual course objectives are expected to be fashioned. As Bridgeforth (2011) states I experience leadership when I relate to it, accept it, and agree to participate (B.B., personal communication, 3/8/2011). This tells us that definitions of leadership are unique to each individual. Students were asked a series of questions that allowed the researcher to analyze their perception of program curriculum. Answers revealed the students unarticulated definition of leadership in terms of how they relate, accept and agree with their accomplishment of the program s learning objectives (the program s collective definition of organizational leadership).

7 Survey Participant Selection Survey Population All MAOL students with a minimum of three earned MAOL course credits. The survey population size is 61 persons; 39 enrolled in the program and 22 taking program courses Contact information was received through the office of the Interim Director of the MAOL program Exclusions Students enrolled in ORL 5550 Organizational Research and Evaluation Student researcher

8 Organizational Leadership Curriculum Review 10 organizational leadership programs curriculum from universities across the United States were reviewed and compared to MU s MAOL curriculum. Every 7 th (of 77) programs (as of 3/26/11) were identified in the International Leadership Association (ILA) database Programs identified from the following criteria: Master s Degree Level (including minors); and In the United States of America; and Degree Name Keyword: Organizational Leadership

9 Results - Program Review Program Type (Mansfield University s program is a MA) 10 programs reviewed MA MS MLA MOL Total credits required (Mansfield University requires 33 total credits) 10 programs reviewed 36 total credits 33 total credits 31 total credits 30 total credits 39 total credits MU MAOL program s required courses and the number of institutions reviewed that require similar courses: MU MAOL required courses # of schools requiring similar courses Org Leadership: Theory and Practice 9 Org Behavior and Change 6 Org Planning &Administration 3 Governance & Community Relations 1 Leadership Ethics 8 Research, Program Assess& Evaluation 8 Effective Communication in Leadership Roles 6 Organizational Leadership Practicum 3 Leadership Capstone Seminar 4

10 Results Student Surveys 88.8% of the total respondents are female 61.1% of the respondents completed 21 or more MAOL credits 55.5% of the respondents have been in the workforce for less than three years after receiving their undergraduate degree and entering their masters degree program 75% of the four non-program respondents are taking courses as electives for other masters degree programs

11 Program Students Based on the results of the survey, students are pleased with the program in that at least 71.4% of the answers to the general program satisfaction statements were either Strongly Agree or Agree Exceptions: The MAOL course(s) has or will help me explore professional opportunities (64.3% either Strongly Agree or Agree ) Discussions in the forums lead to lively and interesting dialogue (57.1% either Strongly Agree or Agree ) Even with the two exceptions, the data reveals overall satisfaction with the MAOL Non-Program Students More than half of the respondents are less satisfied with the program (75% of the answers are either Disagree or Strongly Disagree )

12 Recommendations A marketing analysis should be performed by MAOL program administrators Targets: Students just out of bachelor s degree programs this is based on the number of respondents with less than three years in the workforce prior to entering the MU MAOL program Females should also be considered for target marketing as 81.96% of eligible respondents are female. Annual or biannual program assessment is necessary for continued improvement benefiting not only the MAOL but Mansfield University. Include: student satisfaction surveys, marketing analysis and organizational leadership program comparisons. Partner with other MU and PASSHE programs to easily transfer credits for electives. This would allow MAOL students to build their own leadership specialties such as educational, healthcare and corporate leadership focusing their education on a particular leadership track.

13 Closely review the structure, content and coursework required for the classes that were identified as the most useful as well as those that need improvement. This would not only bring continuity throughout the program s courses but aid in building stronger classes for students. Respondents consistently stated the need for the instructors to provide useful feedback in a timely manner and be heavily involved in the course from beginning to end. This could be achieved through a screening process of instructors, and robust course monitoring and assessment by program administrators throughout the semester. Focus group studies should be performed specifically focusing on online instruction prior to making any changes (blended courses, required online chats, etc.) to the program in this particular area. 38.8% of the respondents stated that they were attracted to the MU MAOL program for the online component.

14 Summary It is clear the program administrators worked to maintain the initial intent of the MU MAOL program as described in MU s program proposal to the system Board of Governors. Overall, students are pleased with MAOL program. This knowledge will allow administrators to make slight changes without severe financial burdens for implementation. Although the response rate for the student satisfaction survey was somewhat low, this research is a good baseline on which to anchor Mansfield University s Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership assessment. As previously mentioned, additional research should be performed annually for the purpose of continuous improvement. Marketing is critical in terms of recruitment and strong program enrollment.

15 References References Andenoro, A. C. (2005). Competencies of Leadership Professionals: A National Study (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Texas A&M. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from Bridgeforth, B. W. (2005). Advancing the Practice of Leadership: A Curriculum. Journal of Leadership Education, 4(1), Retrieved February 13, 2011, from EBSCOhost. Colvin, R. E. (2003). Leadership Studies and Liberal Education. Journal of Leadership Education, 2(2), Retrieved February 18, 2011 from Education Oasis - Teaching Resources for Educators (2004). Learning Objectives: Stems and Samples. Retrieved February 20, 2011 from Erickson, D. (Comp.). (2008, Fall). Mansfield University [Executive Summary of Proposed Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership]. Provost Office, Mansfield University. Hernon, P. (2004). Selecting from the Assessment Tool Chest. Pvamu.edu. Retrieved February 20, 2011, from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania - Developing Tomorrow's Leaders (2009b). M.A. Organizational Leadership - Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved February 20, 2011, available: McBroom, D. G. (2008). Explorations in Leadership Education: The Role of Leadership Education in Higher Education Outcomes. Etd.lib.umt.edu. Retrieved February 22, 2011, from Simpson, T. W., Hunter, S. T., Bryant-Arnold, C., Parkinson, M., Barton, R. R., Celento, D., & Messner, J. (2009). INTERDISCIPLINARY GRADUATE DESIGN PROGRAMS:. Retrieved February 18, 2011, from Stanley, D. (2006). Role Conflict: Leaders and Managers. Nursing Management, 13(5), Schneider, J. (2007). A Multivariate Study of Graduate Student Satisfaction and Other Outcomes Within Cooperative Research Centers. NCSU Digital Repository. NCSU Libraries. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from

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