You are here:

System, scholar or students? Which most influences online MBA course effectiveness?

Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Volume 30, Number 4, ISSN 1365-2729 Publisher: Wiley


Considering the increasingly challenging resource environments in many business schools, this study examined whether course technologies, learner behaviors or instructor behaviors best predict online course outcomes so that administrators and support personnel can prioritize their efforts and investments. Based on reviewing prior online and blended management education literature, we hypothesized that instructor behaviors would be most predictive of online course outcomes. However, our study of 48 online Master of Business Administration courses found that although instructor behaviors (operationalized as teaching presence) was the strongest predictor of any of our three outcome variables (perceived learning), only student behaviors (operationalized as social presence) significantly predicted all three (course grades, perceived learning and delivery medium satisfaction). Technological characteristics, operationalized using variables from the technology acceptance model and media variety, predicted perceived learning (perceived ease of use) and delivery medium satisfaction (perceived usefulness). The paper provides recommendations for instructors and administrators based on the findings, specifically advocating for a balance between instructor and administrator involvement in course design, presentation and conduct. The paper concludes by describing research opportunities regarding the roles of social presence in and collaborative approaches to online learning in business schools.


Arbaugh, J.B. (2014). System, scholar or students? Which most influences online MBA course effectiveness?. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(4), 349-362. Wiley. Retrieved March 2, 2021 from .

Cited By

View References & Citations Map

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact