1 VIRTUAL TEAM LEARNING IN ONLINE MBA EDUCATION: AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION Wayne Huang, Ohi University, Thm Luce, Ohi University, Yng Lu, Ohi University, ABSTRACT Online MBA educatin has a great ptential t meet the needs f busy prfessinals and reduce educatin csts, which is especially attractive given that funding fr university educatin has been cut fr years. Few studies have been cnducted t examine hw grup/team learning in nline educatin prgrams cntributes t nline learning utcmes in the research literature. This study intends t explre the crrelatins amng virtual team learning, learning mtivatin, and learning utcme (satisfactin). A survey was cnducted fr that research purpse. Research findings reprted that learning mtivatin was significantly crrelated with learning utcme and virtual team learning was significantly crrelated with learning utcme. Hwever, virtual team learning was nt significantly crrelated with learning mtivatin. The research findings, implicatins and limitatins are discussed. Keywrds: nline MBA educatin, virtual team learning, learning mtivatin, and learning satisfactin. INTRODUCTION Online educatin prgram seems ne ptentially effective way t reduce educatin cst and als prvide 24x7 access fr many students wh are residing in remte areas r are wrking full-time during week days. Hence, much research has been cnducted n nline educatin [e.g., 4, 5, 8, 9, 10]. While federal and state funding fr educatin has been cut ver the last years, using infrmatin technlgy t supprt higher educatin prgrams, including MBA prgrams, seems t be a reasnable chice fr many state universities in the US. There are sme successful nline university degree prgrams in USA, such as Phenix University (www.phenix.edu) that has becme the largest university in US within less than 10 years, in terms f student ppulatin. Hwever, sme nline degree prgrams have nt achieved gd results as expected [e.g., 1]. There are many unreslved imprtant issues and unknwn answers fr unsuccessful nline educatin prgrams. Mre empirical studies shuld be cnducted t explre thse imprtant issues and prvide slid empirical evidences fr university administratrs t make right and effective decisins n nline educatin prgrams. This study intends t explre nline MBA educatin prgram frm the perspective f virtual team learning, which has nt been adequately studied in the research literature. Mre specifically, the research questins fr the current study are as fllws: Are nline MBA prgram students generally satisfied with their nline learning prgram and perfrmance? Vlume VI, N. 1, Issues in Infrmatin Systems
2 Is effective virtual team learning used in an nline MBA prgram assciated with students perceived learning utcme? Is effective virtual team learning used in an nline MBA prgram assciated with students perceived learning mtivatin? Is learning mtivatin assciated with students perceived learning utcme in an nline MBA prgram? The next sectin will summarize the related literature n cllabrative learning mdels and virtual team learning. The research hyptheses fllw. Sectin 4 describes the research methdlgy and prvides the details f research instruments and samples. The cllected data are analyzed in Sectin 5, and Sectin 6 presents the discussin and implicatin, fllwed by research limitatins and future studies in Sectin 7. LITERATURE REVIEW Literature Review n Relevant Learning Theries There are many theretical learning mdels in the research literature. In general, all kinds f learning mdels can be categrized t tw brad classificatins: traditinal bjectivist mdel f learning and cgnitive cnstructivist mdel f learning. There are als sme variatins in the cnstructivist s leaning mdel, which includes cllabrative learning mdel (CLM). CLM thery psits that individual learning will happen and will be further enhanced by individuals sharing learning knwledge and interacting with thers. Thrugh thse sharing and interactins, individuals can be mre mtivated t cnstruct new meanings f cncepts and learning materials fr themselves . In this way, effective learning ccurs and individuals can learn faster and better. Literature Review n Prir Relevant Studies Infrmatin technlgy (IT), such as grupware, can be used t supprt nline cllabrative learning in virtual teams where team members can be lcated in different gegraphical places in different time znes. It is relatively new fr universities t ffer nline degree prgrams, and thus there are a limited number f empirical studies being published n using IT t supprt nline IS degree prgrams. Flynn  reprted that team learning withut the supprt f IT utperfrmed traditinal individual learning by increasing learning utcmes, enhancing learning mtivatin and prmting psitive changes in scial attitudes twards learning. Alavi cnducted an experiment t cmpare learning prcesses and utcmes f MBA students enrlled in ne IS curse between a traditinal classrm setting and a grupware-supprted synchrnus setting . She reprted that grupware-supprted synchrnus virtual teams were fund t achieve a higher level f perceived learning, learning skill develpment and learning interest than student teams withut the supprt f grupware. Vlume VI, N. 1, Issues in Infrmatin Systems
3 There have been n prir empirical studies, t ur knwledge, t examine impacts f asynchrnus virtual teams supprted by grupware n learning utcmes f a whle nline MBA degree prgram. This current study intends t bridge the gap. RESEARCH HYPOTHESES Based n the abve literature review n cllabrative learning thery and prir relevant studies f interactins f virtual teams, nline learners can be mre mtivated t cnstruct new meanings f cncepts and learning materials fr themselves  and thus increase their learning utcme. Further, learning mtivatins and utcmes culd be enhanced by cllabrative learning fr virtual teams supprted by grupware [1, 6]. Therefre, a research mdel is derived, as shwn in Figure 1. Virtual team learning Learning utcme Learning mtivatin Figure 1. Research Mdel Further, based n the research mdel, we have the fllwing research hyptheses. H1: Virtual team learning effectiveness will be crrelated t perceived learning utcme. H2: Virtual team learning will be crrelated t learning mtivatin. H3: Learning mtivatin will be crrelated t learning utcme Research Design RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Unlike previus empirical studies n cllabrative learning, this research examines impacts f cllabrative learning f virtual teams n a whle nline MBA prgram, rather than n a separate IS curse. Therefre, an experiment research methdlgy was nt suitable; instead, a survey research methdlgy was used. All MBA students enrlled in and gradated frm the nline MBA Withut Bundaries (MBAWB) prgram f Ohi University were survey subjects. Created mre than 7 years ag, Ohi University s MBAWB prgram successfully used Prblem-Based Learning Mdel (PBLM) and grupware (LtusNtes Dmin Technlgy) t supprt virtual team learning fr students Vlume VI, N. 1, Issues in Infrmatin Systems
4 within the US and als utside the US in lcatins such as in Brazil. The MBAWB prgram at the Cllege f Business, Ohi University, has been ranked as ne f the best accredited graduate business prgrams by US News and Wrld Reprts . The ttal number f MBAWB prgram students is nw 185. The nly available cntact infrmatin f the MBAWB graduates is the addresses list that was dcumented when thse students graduated frm the prgram. A cver letter was written and issued by the MBAWB directr. The cver letter and questinnaire was ed t all reachable OU MBAWB graduates, wh were given abut ne mnth t fill ut the questinnaire and back the cmpleted questinnaire. After graduatin, sme graduates changed their jbs; thus, their previus addresses were nt valid anymre. Sixty-five addresses were nt valid and therefre were returned. The ttal number f reachable addresses was 120. Amng 120 valid addresses, 35 MBAWA graduates cmpleted the attached questinnaire and sent it back, which resulted in a respnse rate f 29%. Further, 6 f the 35 filled questinnaires were nt usable because f missing data. Therefre, the data analysis was cnducted with the 29 valid cmpete questinnaires. Research Instruments All research instruments used in the survey questinnaire were directly adpted frm existing research literature. Three research cnstructs were measured: learning mtivatins , perceived learning utcme (satisfactin) , and virtual team learning . A 5-pint Likert scale was used fr the three cnstructs. In scring the items, strngly agree received 5 pints; agree, 4 pints; neutral, 3 pints; disagree, 2 pints; and strngly disagree, 1 pint. RESEARCH FINDINGS Descriptive statistics are shwn in Table 1. The participants shwed strng learning mtivatin abut the nline MBA prgram. Fr the three questins related t the learning mtivatin cnstruct, the percentages f strngly agree and agree are 93.1%, 93.1% and 65.5%. The participants seemed quite satisfied with the nline MBA prgram. Fr the three questins related t the learning satisfactin cnstruct, the percentages f strngly agree and agree were 85.7%, 89.7% and 86.2%. They als shwed cnsistent psitive attitude tward virtual team learning. Fr the three questins related t virtual team learning, the percentages f strngly agree and agree were 96.6%, 100% and 79.3%. Vlume VI, N. 1, Issues in Infrmatin Systems
5 Table 1. The Descriptive Statistics f the Three Cnstructs SA A N D SD 1. Learning mtivatin LM1. I did my best as much as I culd in the 44.8% 48.3% 6.9% 0 0 nline educatin prgram LM2. I had a great interest in the nline 48.3% 44.8% 3.4% 3.4% 0 educatin prgram. LM3. Thrughut this nline prgram, I wanted 20.7% 44.8% 31.0% 3.4% 0 t achieve better than thers 2. Learning utcme (satisfactin) LS1. I recmmend this prgram t my 46.4% 39.3% 3.6% 3.6% 7.1% clleagues. LS2. This prgram is valuable t invest time and 27.6% 62.1% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% effrt LS3. I am satisfied with this nline prgram. 41.4% 44.8% 6.9% 3.4% 3.4% 3. Virtual team learning VTL1. Team wrk cntributed t curse quality. 55.2% 41.4% 3.4% 0 0 VTL2. Team wrk cntributed t learning. 58.6% 41.4% VTL3. Team wrk was fun. 27.6% 51.7% 13.8% 6.9% 0 As shwn in Table 2, the means and standard deviatins fr the three cnstructs are 5.41 and 1.38 fr learning mtivatin, 5.61 and 2.87 fr learning satisfactin, 4.90 and 1.68 fr virtual team learning. Table 2. Means and Standard Deviatins f the Three Cnstructs. Descriptive Statistics learning mtivatin learning satisfactin virtual team learning Mean Std. Deviatin N Internal cnsistency estimates f reliability (cefficient alpha) were cnducted fr the three cnstructs. In Table 3, the cefficient alpha values fr learning satisfactin and virtual team learning are.94 and.81, respectively. These values are larger than.70, indicating satisfactry cnstruct reliability. The cefficient alpha value fr learning mtivatin is.26, indicating less satisfactry cnstruct reliability. Future research shuld further address the learning mtivatin cnstruct. Table 3. Cefficient Alpha fr Three Cnstructs Cnstructs Cefficient alpha Learning mtivatin.26 Learning satisfactin.94 Virtual team learning.81 Vlume VI, N. 1, Issues in Infrmatin Systems
6 Table 3 presents the results f Bivariate Crrelatin test. The Bivariate Crrelatin test cmputers Pearsn crrelatin and measures hw variables are related. As shwn in Table 4, the crrelatin between virtual team learning and learning satisfactin is significant, r =.43, p <.05. Therefre, virtual team learning is crrelated t learning satisfactin. The crrelatin between learning mtivatin and learning satisfactin is significant, r =.50, p <.01. Learning mtivatin is crrelated t learning satisfactin. Hwever, the crrelatin between virtual team learning and learning mtivatin is nt significant, r =.236, p >.05. Table 4. Pearsn Crrelatin learning mtivatin Pearsn Crrelatin Sig. (2-tailed) Crrelatins learning learning virtual team mtivatin satisfactin learning 1.495** N learning satisfactin Pearsn Crrelatin.495** 1.430* Sig. (2-tailed) N virtual team learning Pearsn Crrelatin * 1 Sig. (2-tailed) N **. Crrelatin is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). *. Crrelatin is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS In summary, the research findings reprt that 1. Virtual team learning is significantly crrelated t learning satisfactin. 2. Learning mtivatin is significantly crrelated t learning satisfactin. 3. Hwever, there is n significant relatinship fund between virtual team learning and learning mtivatin. One pssible explanatin fr the unsupprted hypthesis culd be due t the fact that the previusly validated learning mtivatin cnstruct was initially designed fr traditinal learning rather than nline learning. As a result, it may need a new instrument t measure nline learning mtivatin rather than directly adpting the validated ne frm traditinal learning. Learning mtivatin is ne imprtant factr in influencing learning satisfactin, which is especially imprtant t nline learning where n instructrs r peer classmates are physically present t a learner t mtivate the learner in an nline educatin prgram. Virtual team learning culd be a useful means t mtivate nline learners in nline learning. Further, virtual team learning was fund t be an effective mechanism t increase nline learners satisfactin with nline learning utcmes. Therefre, nline learning prgrams shuld encurage the teaching pedaggy f virtual team learning in the future. Vlume VI, N. 1, Issues in Infrmatin Systems
7 RESEARCH LIMITATIONS There are sme research limitatins in this study. First, the internal cnsistency estimates f reliability fr learning mtivatin cnstruct is less than.70. Future research shuld address the issue by designing a new learning mtivatin instrument fr nline learning and then validate it. Secnd, the sample size was 29, althugh it gave an acceptable respnse rate f 29%. Further studies culd have a larger sample t further examine the research issue. Third, after a new instrument measuring nline learning mtivatin is wrked ut, future studies shuld further examine the crrelatin between virtual team learning and nline learning mtivatin. REFERENCES 1. Alavi, M. (June 1994). Cmputer-Mediated Cllabrative Learning: An Empirical Evaluatin. MIS Quarterly, 18(2), Alavi M. & Leidner, D. E. Research Cmmentary: Technlgy-Mediated Learning A Call fr Greater Depth and Breadth f Research. Infrmatin Systems Research, 12(1), 2001, Bailey, J.E. & Pearsn, S.W. (1983). Develpment f a Tl fr Measuring and Analyzing Cmputer User Satisfactin. Management Science, 29(5), Chandler, B. (2002). Innvatin in pen and distance learning. Successful develpment f nline and web-based learning. Studies in Higher Educatin, 27(1), Chen, S. Y. & Paul, R. J. (2003). Editrial: individual differences in web-based instructin an verview. British Jurnal f Educatinal Technlgy, 34(4), Flynn, J.L. (Octber 1992). Cperative learning and Gagne s events f instructin: A syncretic view. Educatinal Technlgy, Hicks, W. D., & Klimski, R. J. (1987). Entry int Educatin Outcmes: A Field Experiment, Academy f Management Jurnal, 30, Huang, W. & Luce, T. (2004). Prpsing an Effective Teaching Pedaggical Mde fr Online MBA Educatin: An Explratry Empirical Investigatin. Issues in Infrmatin Systems, V(1). 9. Huang, W., Yen, D., Lin, Z. X. & Huang, J. H. (April June 2004). Hw t Cmpete in Glbal Educatin Market Effective Cnceptual Framewrk fr Designing a Next Generatin Educatin System. Internatinal Jurnal f Infrmatin Management, 12(2), Richardsn, J. T. E. (2003). Appraches t studying and perceptins f academic quality in a shrt web-based curse. British Jurnal f Educatinal Technlgy, 34(4), Slavin, R.E. (1990). Cperative learning: Thery, research, and practice. Englewd Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. 12. US News and Wrld Reprts, 131(15), Octber 15, 2001, Vlume VI, N. 1, Issues in Infrmatin Systems
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