The value of an online degree in hiring gatekeepers' choice for employment
The Value of an Online Degree in HiringGatekeepers‟ choice for Employment Renee Mandelbaum S
StatisticsS Fall 2012: Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course (Allen & Seaman 2011).S 31% of all higher education students now take at least one course online. (Allen & Seaman 2011).S For the purposes of this report: online courses are those in which at least 80% of the course content is delivered online (Allen & Seaman 2011).S Online Degrees--Advertisement
StatisticsS A study including data from 2,500 colleges and universities revealed that 65% (of all reporting institutions) indicate online learning is a critical part of long-term institutional strategy (Allen & Seaman 2011).S 63% of academic leaders rated the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to- face (Allen & Seaman 2011).S Among college graduates who have taken a class online 15% have earned a degree entirely online (Pew Research Center, 2011).
TrendsS 19% of all undergraduates at for-profit institutions were enrolled in an online degree granting program (U.S. Department of Education, 2011).S Presidents of both non-profit and for-profit post secondary institutions predict a continued increase in the number of courses offered online as well as student enrollment
Who Are They?S Online degree learner S Noel-Levitz (2011) collected data from over 99,000 online students from 108 institutions S Majority of online learners were Caucasian females S Enrolled fully online with a full-time class load S Undergraduate level S Half students were married
Employer PerceptionsS Research indicates that many employers remain reluctant to hire individuals who received their degrees online (Adams and DeFleur‟s 2006).S Student of principal perception of an online degree in teacher preparation was overwhelmingly negative (Huss, 2007).S “While the reputation of a university for academic rigor is also associated with acceptability, traditional classroom experiences are perceived to offer something more. It may be suggested that online programs, even those offered by institutions noted for excellent academic standards, may always be regarded as „missing‟ key elements” (Adams, 2008).
Employer Perceptions Adams & DeFleur (2006)S Acceptability of Online Degree Earned as a Credential for Obtaining Employments S Applicant A: degree was awarded by a college or university where 100% of the applicant‟s courses were completed via traditional classroom S Applicant B: degree was awarded by a „„virtual university.‟‟ This university does not have a campus, classrooms, labs or library, and 100% of the applicant‟s courses were taken online over the Internet. S Applicant C :degree was awarded by a college or university, where 50% of the applicant‟s courses were taken online over the Internet, and the other 50% were completed via traditional classroom.
Study Continued Adams & DeFleur (2006) Traditional Combination Online Only 96% Source of Degree 27% 4% 0 50 100Figure 1: Percent who replied YES to: “I would be most likely torecommend hiring the applicant.”
Employer PerceptionsS Society of Human Resource Management (2010) report some employers are now starting to see online learning as a valid educational solution. S More than one-third of organizations stated that job candidates who have obtained their degrees online were viewed as favorably as job applicants with traditional degrees (i.e., brick- and-mortar). S 55% indicated that if two job applicant with same job experience were applying for a job—degree would not make a difference (online vs. traditional) S Only 11% of organizations reported that applicants frequently or always identify degree type (online vs. traditional)
DefinitionS Hiring Gatekeeper S “…anyone who stands between you and the person who might want to hire you. Gatekeepers come in many forms, including receptionists, HR recruiters, and resume screeners” (Columbaro and Monagham, 2009).
Research Purpose & QuestionsS Study Purpose: to help online degree job candidates understand the potential hiring barriers they may incur from employersS The following research questions were addressed in this study:1. What are employers‟ current perceptions regarding online education?2. How do employer views compare for candidates who earned their online degrees from online institutions and from prestigious traditional institutions?3. To what extent do employer views regarding online and traditional degree earned from prestigious traditional institutions differ?
Methodology & Research DesignS Qualitative Design S Semi-structured interview protocol S One-on-one interviews S Interview guide consisted of 17 research-based items S Was assessed for content validity by educational professionalsS Purposeful sampling methods S Participants position S Responsibility within company S Final sample of four hiring gatekeepers agreed to participate
Methodology ContinuedS Ethical Issues S IRB S Voluntary & AnonymousS Researcher Reflexivity S Personal experience online educationS Trustworthiness S Transcription accuracy S Peer Review
Methodology Continued Responses among participants were assessed, analyzed, and coded to identify similarities and differences. Able to generate common themes and sub-categories from each data set. Used a compare and contrast method of data analysis.S Theme S Credentialism S Legitimacy Theory
Study ParticipantsParticipant Participant Participant Hiring Responsibilities Company Type PositionJohn Media CEO Responsible for all hiring decisionsSarah Software Director Reviews all resumes and Development makes company hiring decisionsJennifer TV Network Human Recruiting & hiring Resources responsibilitiesPaula Fortune 150 Human Supports 250 employees Manufacturing Resources and responsible for recruiting and hiring
Perceptions of Online DegreesParticipant Perception less intensive education John less collaboration with students and potentially not an opportunity to have one-on-one interaction with their professors… I think Phoenix (laughter). Jennifer If I see online (on a resume)…50/50 I am okay with it, but I know if I pass it on to a hiring manager they‟d be like “no”. One of the first things that pops into my head is the University of Phoenix. Sarah We would not hire a person with a 100 percent online undergraduate degree. I think of it as second tier… Paula It (online degree) is easy to get. It (online degree) is not as challenging
Participant ResponsesS John: The perception I have of the online education—what I don’t know and what I would love to know is the courses that are taught online…are they identical in the curriculum to what is on campus? Meaning, chapter by chapter, verse by verse – are the students going over that or is it in a bridge version that they’re getting that way. That to me probably would change my perception of online education…I would feel more comfortable with even myself achieving a degree in that regard.S Sarah: With an online degree you can sit in your pajamas, go to class and not really have a lot of the group interaction and teamwork interaction that you would have in your real job place. Having that experience (traditional) rather than actually going and participating in groups and being a part of the college experience is something that is really negative in our minds. (It) would definitely be a huge factor and we probably wouldn’t interview them.
Participant ResponsesS Paula: People at our company that went through traditional classroom base learning, they struggled, they studied hard…everyone had that stress, everyone felt it…they’re proud of themselves for overcoming it. Now, people that have taken online classes, I would probably say, that most of them felt that the class was easier. Speaking from experience I felt I didn’t have to read or study as much (in her online course).S Sarah: I think that named schools it’s a little different in the fact that you already have an established program that you know already works. You can see the results of the people that graduate with this degree inter of percentage of career placement. If a traditional school was to say let’s do an online program that has the same curriculum that we know work(s) and that follows that same core, then I think that’s ok. I think the difference is those online places don’t have established core curriculum. It’s not reputable or nationally recognized…
Participant ResponsesS John: It matters as it’s a factor in every decision I make. In fact, I recently had made a hire from someone who graduated from an Ivy League school and actually looking into those credentials swayed me into making a decision sooner… because you sort of knew that they (job applicant) were pre- vetted before as far as intelligence goes.S Jennifer: If you are at a top school, you automatically pass [the initial screening processS Paula: I actually have encountered resumes from the University of Phoenix...It’s actually a struggle with international students that we’re finding. We have actually caught some individuals that have degree from schools that aren’t accredited, yet they’re saying they’re accredited and we’ve had to terminate some individuals because they’ve lied on their resume.
Participant ResponsesS John: : I’ll be very honest. I’m not sure who I’ve hired that’s had online degrees. I could say from my recollection, I don’t believe I have hired anybody or seen a résumé that has an online degree‖.S Jennifer: I haven’t had many people, write on their resume, they graduated online or not ... even if they did, I think those (Big Ten Schools) are probably easier to pass along, then like Phoenix.S Paula: We [the company] place a lot of emphasis on a school an individual goes to…more importantly we place a higher emphasis on the advanced degree…If a candidate has a Bachelor’s Degree from a smaller school…maybe a degree that isn’t relevant for the position (but) they have an MBA from a top 25 program, then we would still consider the candidate.
Participant ResponsesS Jennifer: I am assuming I feel a little different…If you are getting your masters, and it is distance learning, I mean, yes, it would matter what school you went to…but we are assuming you are a little bit older, you have families, it is not as easy to get to class, so I think it is a little bit more cushion in that sense.S Paula: Some people choose programs where 20 percent will be online and 80 percent would be classroom, we’re completely fine with that. We understand that in today’s economic environment you can be successful doing some online learning, but we do think that the majority of the learning happens in a collaborative classroom.
Participant ResponsesS Paula: A lot of MBA schools I recruited (at), the students are proactively approaching companies and saying, ―How can we help you (the company)? Can we take out a consulting project for you? Can five of our students work on a huge initiative for you? I haven’t personally seen any online program come to us and try to do some type of partnership/corporation student program…but that’s what I’d really like to see…if the students (from online program) were successful helping our company…we would be much more likely to partner with them and potentially consider them for employment.S Jennifer: I think recruiters or HR representatives will have to take them (online degree applicants) into consideration…It is hard now because it is not as acceptable when there is a bias, but I am gonna say within five years, it will change…
ConclusionsS David, Sarah, and Paula articulated views consistent with the findings of Adams and DeFleur’s (2007) S applicant with a traditional degree was preferred in two different hiring scenarios.S The concern participants indicated regarding the actual rigor and educational value that is obtained when achieving an online degree was echoed by Huss (2007). S employer perception of an online degree in teacher preparation was overwhelmingly negative.
ImplicationsS Students are spending thousands annually to enhance or promote their career path S Expect solid return on investment (i.e. job or promotion) S Protect oneself from poor financial decision S Role of Academy to educate hiring gatekeepersS Future Research S Post-graduate career success as compared with traditional degree
How does this relate to you?S More and more online PhD programs in fields such as instructional technology/higher education are being offered.S What does the future hold for students graduating with online degrees?S What strategies do you suggest students considering an online or a blended program use to be better prepared for jobs?S What is your perspective?