Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Federal Reserve, Interest Rates, and the National Debt by Dr. Robin Dhakal

Understanding effects of the Federal Reserve's interest rate decisions is essential for everyone since it affects every aspect of our lives. Whether you're an individual saver, a business owner, or just trying to make sense of economic news, the Fed's actions are bound to impact your wallet. But what exactly is this influence and why does it matter? And how does this affect our national debt issue?

Let’s start with the basics.

The Federal Reserve is arguably the most important aspect of the US economic system because of its role in monetary policy. By setting the benchmark for short-term interest rates, the Fed indirectly guides borrowing costs across the country. These rates affect various aspects of the economy- everything from the interest on your savings account to the cost of taking out a loan for a new home or a business venture. When the Fed decides to hike up rates, as Bankrate explains, borrowing becomes more expensive. This doesn't just mean higher monthly payments on new loans; it also impacts interest rates on existing variable-rate debt like credit cards and home equity lines of credit. Conversely, when the Fed lowers rates, it encourages spending and investment which heats up the economy— but at the risk of stoking inflation.

The Fed's influence extends beyond personal finance. According to Federal Reserve publications, its monetary policy decisions directly sway interest rates and indirectly affect stock prices, wealth, and even currency exchange rates. It's a balancing act of monumental proportions, aiming to foster a stable economy that grows without overheating. But this is a delicate balance. As Investopedia reports, changes in interest rates can have long-lasting impacts. When rates rise, consumers and businesses may pull back on spending due to higher financing costs, potentially slowing the economy. On the flip side, when rates fall, spending can surge, driving up prices and possibly leading to inflation.

Industries are affected differently with interest rate changes. Real estate, for example, is sensitive to these fluctuations. Higher rates can cool down the housing market, as mortgages become expensive and potential buyers shy away. Conversely, banks might see this as an opportunity, with increased interest rates leading to wider profit margins on loans. Manufacturing firms with heavy reliance on borrowing may face challenges, as the cost of financing equipment or facilities rises. But not all is bad; sectors like consumer staples or utilities, which are less sensitive to economic cycles, may fare better in an environment of climbing rates.

So, how does this affect the Federal government?

At its core, the Fed's decision to adjust interest rates affects how much it costs the government to borrow money. Just like individuals, the federal government takes out loans to fund various initiatives, from infrastructure projects to social programs. These loans come in the form of Treasury bonds, bills, and notes that investors purchase. The interest rate set by the Fed, often referred to as the federal funds rate, indirectly influences the yield on these securities. A higher federal funds rate generally leads to higher Treasury yields, which translates into increased borrowing costs for the government.

History has shown us that declining interest rates can be a boon for the government. Lower rates mean cheaper borrowing costs, allowing for the financing of deficits at a more manageable expense. For years, we've seen a general downtrend in interest rates, even near-zero levels during economic crises such as the 2008 financial collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as the rates begin to rise, the scenario shifts. The recent trend, marked by the Federal Reserve's rate hikes, has seen an uptick in the cost of servicing the national debt. This means a larger portion of the government's budget must be allocated to paying interest, potentially constraining spending in other areas or leading to increased borrowing to cover these costs.

What about the national debt?

As interest rates climb, the cost of maintaining and adding to this debt grows. Each uptick in rates can mean billions of dollars in additional interest payments over time. This is no small matter when considering the scale of the U.S. national debt, which stands in the trillions of dollars. The interest payment on our national debt is close to $400 billion in 2023. This higher interest payments may lead to difficult budgetary choices, with potential cuts to services or the need for higher taxes to bridge the financial gap. It's a delicate balance.

In response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fed implemented aggressive rate cuts to stimulate economic activity. The ultra-low interest rate environment resulted in increased government borrowing at historically low costs, allowing the federal government to finance its debt at favorable terms. However, as the economy began to recover and inflationary pressures increased, the Federal Reserve started gradually increasing interest rates. These post-COVID rate hikes were aimed at preserving price stability and preventing excessive inflation. As interest rates rose, the cost of borrowing for the federal government also increased, leading to a rise in future interest payments on the national debt.

What are the potential consequences of the future rate cuts?

The Fed's recent indication of potential interest rate cuts in 2024 raises questions regarding its impact on the national debt and the broader economy. While the exact effects are subject to numerous variables, we can explore potential implications based on economic principles and past experiences.

1)     If interest rates are cut, the federal government would benefit from lowered borrowing costs. This would alleviate the burden of interest payments on the national debt, freeing up resources for other priorities. However, it is crucial to note that this relief would be temporary, as future rate hikes, driven by inflationary pressures or economic growth, could again increase borrowing costs.

2)     A rate cut typically stimulates the economy by reducing borrowing costs for businesses and consumers. Lower interest rates incentivize borrowing and can boost investment, consumption, and overall economic activity. This stimulation could lead to increased tax revenues for the government, potentially improving its fiscal position and reducing the national debt over time.

3)     One potential consequence of rate cuts is an increase in inflation (again!) Despite the Fed's commitment to keeping inflation in check, a sustained period of low interest rates can potentially stimulate excessive borrowing and spending, fueling inflationary pressures. Inflation erodes the value of money, reducing the purchasing power of consumers and increasing the cost of living. This could indirectly impact the national debt by reducing the real value of outstanding debt obligations over time.

4)     U.S.'s fiscal and monetary policies has global implications. In a scenario where the Fed cuts interest rates while other central banks maintain or raise rates, it could lead to a depreciation of the U.S. dollar. A weaker dollar can increase demand for U.S. exports and make the national debt more manageable as it is denominated in U.S. dollars. However, this scenario can also raise concerns about international capital flows and the stability of the financial markets.

Tackling the national debt requires serious conversations around difficult issues. The solution involves cutting spending while increases taxes. Policymakers will have to make these tough decisions. While the solution to this problem ultimately rests with the Congress, the Fed is able to influence the debt with its monetary policy. However, it is important to note that while rate cuts could provide temporary relief on debt servicing costs and stimulate economic activity, they may also contribute to inflationary pressures and have broader implications for the global economy. It is important for policymakers to consider these economic principles and potential consequences when formulating monetary policy decisions.

Dr. Robin Dhakal Bio:

Dr. Robin Dhakal

Dr. Robin Dhakal is an Assistant Professor in the Forbes School of Business and Technology. He earned a M.A. and a Ph.D. in Economics from University of South Florida and a B.A. in Business/Economics and Mathematics/Computer Science from Warren Wilson College. His academic research focuses on development economics and political economy. He has been teaching Economics in colleges and universities for the past ten years. You can reach him at robin.dhakal@uagc.edu

Friday, November 17, 2023

Building a Strong Foundation: UAGC Deans Fostering Durable Skills in Higher Education

 Bill Davis, Program Chair, Department of Organizational Studies, Sally Deckard, Faculty Support and Classroom Consultant

In this issue of the UAGC Chronicle, we focus on the UAGC student critical goal to offer high-value credentials with marketable skills. Leading this charge for the College of Arts and Sciences and Forbes School of Business and Technology® are Dean Tony Farrell and Dean Maja Zelihic. Recently, Bill Davis, Program Chair of the BA in Operational Management and Analysis, and Sally Deckard, Faculty Support and Classroom Consultant, sat down with these two UAGC leaders to discuss how this goal is addressed in their respective colleges and the vision for the future, moving forward as fully integrated into The University of Arizona.

Bill Davis: For our first question, please share your college’s approach to providing high-value credentials with marketable skills to enhance our UAGC students’ employability.

Maja Zelihic: In partnership with Forbes Media, we educate professionals who want to gain those cutting-edge skills to move up within their companies or change their career paths. To achieve this, the majority of our programs are informed by an industry advisory board that connects us with those in the industry to ensure our programs cover the necessary theoretical basis framework, which is essential and also focuses on the skills necessary for UAGC students to advance. We are striving to create a quality academic experience that promotes decision-making, negotiation, and critical thinking. If we teach these required skills, no matter the marketplace or industry, our students can apply themselves well. We continually check with experts in the field to confirm that we are teaching our students what they need to know and what employers are looking for while paying attention to the educational landscape, lifelong learning, and essential areas of focus depending on a desired career path.

Tony Farrell: The exciting thing about this critical goal is that, in the College of Arts and Sciences, we have gone through a vetting process of our programs for current alignment with industry standards related to programmatic standards and the skills we can demonstrate through our programs. Our academic leaders, especially Program Chairs, have gone through this vetting process. As a result, we now have a roadmap for current and future programs. When students leave our institution, we want to ensure they have a degree that translates to employability. That is what this critical goal addresses. We want to bridge the gap between a degree, employment, and, ultimately, a career. We are unique because our faculty are practitioners who bring a wealth of knowledge from the workplace. They can provide students with much-needed insight and knowledge about specific programs, degrees, and careers through their desire to give back.

BD: How do you see UAGC faculty and staff as contributing to the value of these credentials so students experience optimal learning opportunities and gain valuable, marketable skills?

MZ: Our faculty are practitioners first and foremost. For example, I recently tasked Assistant Deans with soliciting the experience levels of our faculty. We have former CEOs, CIOs, folks running divisions in their industries, business owners, and researchers across the world. One of our instructors owns numerous patents. These people are innovators, and as they are teaching students specific skills, they are not just taking everything out of the textbooks. What they are teaching is based on their experience in the industry.

TF: Looking at specific programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, we have a very eclectic group of programs; in these programs, we have this group of content experts. Our faculty can bridge that area from the degree to the actual career. Our faculty can support our curriculum by providing real-world examples and looking at case studies, course readings, and assignments, and they translate that to the world of work. Our faculty are the most critical individuals when it comes to supporting our students to optimize these learning opportunities.

BD: Durable skills, also known as “power or soft skills,” are essential for success in the workplace. These skills include communicating effectively, adapting to changing industries, demonstrating leadership, displaying emotional intelligence, and creatively engaging in collaboration and critical thinking. How do UAGC degree programs and courses provide students with the technical and durable skills to succeed in today’s job market?

MZ: The old way of thinking was that we needed to cover everything content-wise and give students “the meat on the bones” of the course, and unfortunately, we neglected skills that today one would consider essential. For example, in revising the MBA program, the faculty felt strongly about including exercises such as having students do an elevator pitch and setting up a LinkedIn profile. We have included gaming, where our students are doing simulations. Some of these simulations are based on unique input provided by the student, so no student will have the same experience, and within the class, students will share their experiences. Through this process, students practice decision-making, negotiation, and critical thinking skills, which replicate an actual business environment. We are teaching students to assess the variables and make the best decision based on those circumstances. Just like in the real business world, you may not get the ideal situation, and you make the best decision based on what you have.

TF: The student journey at UAGC starts with GEN101, and we begin developing these soft or durable skills there. The skills are intentionally built into the curriculum, especially when we think about our GEN ED sequence, which supports student mastery of these skills within the scope of their degree. We don’t expect students to come to UAGC with these skills; we introduce, reinforce, and promote the mastery of these skills. Our faculty coach, mentor, and support students in building these skills. In building our courses, we bring in primary sources and multi-media resources, and students have access to role models and examples, all in support of this mastery. How we evaluate learning outcomes in our courses and programs aligns with these skills. It is incumbent on faculty as they develop courses to bring real-world examples into courses, which will enhance the development of these skills.

BD: How does UAGC research the job market, identify which degree programs and skills are in demand, and how do our academic programs meet those demands?

TF: We continue to have opportunities to build on the job market research process at our institution. We leverage career services and the work of the UAGC Business Education Services Team (BEST) in that effort. A big part of how we identify areas of growth and opportunities is our educational partnership teams, who are going out to the industry and talking to our partners about the needs of our clients –including those in business, health care, and education. They are reporting the trends they see in hopes that we can address those needs. We are proactively looking at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data as we look to possible future programs. We want to engage our students and faculty to understand some of these needs as well.

MZ: We have a significant advantage in our partnership with Forbes Media. We have the Forbes Advisory Board, which has some of the top thought leaders in the United States. They are world-renowned leaders, and they provide valuable feedback on our curriculum. The vast majority of our programs also have industry board advisors. We show them what we are teaching students and ask them, “This is what we are teaching students. Is there something we should be teaching them that we are not? Is there something we are teaching that is no longer relevant, keeping in mind that if you give them the proper baseline, regardless of how the market changes, they will take skills into the marketplace?” We must also recognize what is happening in business globally. You must have that mindset of what is happening around the world. A 100% domestically based business is a thing of the past and degree programs must reflect that perspective.

BD: Continuing with the discussion of providing programs that meet industry needs, what is UAGC doing or considering in micro-credentials or certificate programs that provide students with specific high-demand skills?

TF: We will have some great opportunities, post-University of Arizona integration, to focus on some of these areas that may not lead to a degree. We will benefit from this effort with valuable feedback from the BEST Team, advisory boards, faculty, and especially our students as needed. It may be a bit clichĂ©, but as Wayne Gretzky once said, we need “to skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” The future state of education may not always be a two-year, four-year, or graduate degree program. We will have to be responsive to the needs of students in the workplace. I hope we can leverage micro-credentials, which can lead to a degree if the student chooses. Let’s be innovative in an intelligent way.

MZ: In the Forbes School of Business and Technology®, we are identifying our courses that can be packaged into certificate programs. Our BEST Team will work with our corporate partners to identify the certificates that are in most demand right now and that our corporate partners would like to see us provide. We have identified courses aligned with the industry standards, such as our courses, which are SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) certified.

BD: Can you share how a program self-study helps UAGC Program Chairs better understand and design programs that prepare our students for success? In other words, how does this process provide opportunities for UAGC students to gain even more marketable skills and experience success in the job market?

TF: The self-study is probably the most beneficial and important process in critically examining our programs. We analyze student success metrics, the acquisition and mastery of learning outcomes, and the demographics of our student population. Taking that critical eye, the self-reflection done in self-study paints a picture of the tremendous quality of our programs and areas of opportunity. We empower our Program Chairs to engage with external reviewers who are thought leaders and subject matter experts and are highly regarded in that field of study. These reviewers will think critically about our programs by reading the program self-study report and then complete a two-day virtual site visit where they meet with key stakeholders. One of the benefits of our evolution to a remote workforce is engaging with reviewers all over the country. We aim to work with external reviewers who are currently working in the field and who are thinking about the future state as it refers to employment trends in areas that relate to these programs. At the conclusion of the self-study, the external review report is transformed into an action plan that will benefit our students.

MZ: It is imperative to step back and reflect. The self-study provides an opportunity to decompress and reflect and, to the extent possible, look at the program from the perspective of an outsider, looking at peer studies, market demands, and every course in a program with a critical eye. Our external reviewers are incredibly objective and equally passionate professionals. Their insights on the self-study report provide feedback on what we are doing well, what may need a minor tweak, and what needs significant repair. As hard as it is to do these studies, I have not met a single chair that walked away without saying, “I am so glad we have done this,” and a newly found sense of passion and purpose. As a Dean, I have discovered so much, sometimes things that are right in front of us, and we don’t see it.

BD: I would like to thank you both for the time you have shared. You have provided valuable information, insights, and inspiration, and it is clear that the UAGC Forbes School of Business and Technology® and the College of Arts and Sciences are in excellent hands.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Forbes School of Business and Technology Celebrates the Esteemed Fulbright Specialist Placement of Assistant Dean Dr. Katie Thiry and Associate Faculty Dr. Diane Hamilton

In warmest congratulations! Katie Thiry, assistant dean of the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC), and Diane Hamilton, associate faculty member and former MBA program chair at UAGC, have received the prestigious distinction of being included on the Fulbright Specialist Roster. This esteemed recognition, awarded for a distinguished tenure of three years, is presented by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and World Learning, highlighting the exceptional knowledge and dedication exhibited by these outstanding academic leaders.

This recognition is a testament to their incredible dedication and knowledge in the academic world. Selected through a highly competitive peer review process, Katie and Diane are now poised to embark on collaborative projects with institutions in over 150 countries worldwide. This is a true testament to their expertise and UAGC’s potential to forge international educational and cultural partnerships & create international opportunities.

Katie’s bio:

Dr. Katie Thiry is the Assistant Dean for Organizational Studies and Professor in the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at the University of Arizona Global Campus. Dr. Thiry is committed to transforming the higher education landscape and proactively acquires new tools and strategies to generate equitable outcomes for all students through extensive, continuous study and practice. Dr. Thiry earned the “Ensuring Equitable Student Success in Higher Education” certification from Harvard Graduate School of Education to gain a deeper understanding of student success. Dr. Thiry is a founding Board member for the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) established by the Forbes School of Business and Technology® to provide a community for networking and professional development. Dr. Thiry is also a recognized expert in the HR field having earned the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential, and the Workplace Investigations Specialty Credential from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Committed to continuous learning, Dr. Thiry also completed the SHRM People Manager Qualification (PMQ). Thiry is also a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) through the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), and a Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) by the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
Dr. Thiry is a founding Board member for the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) established by the Forbes School of Business and Technology® to provide a community for networking and professional development. Dr. Thiry co-established the CWL Mentoring Program to support the Center's vision of a world in which all women are empowered as leaders. She holds a PhD in Education, with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement, from Capella University; a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Diane’s bio:

Dr. Diane Hamilton is the Founder and CEO of Tonerra, a consulting and media-based business. She is the former MBA Program Chair at the Forbes School of Business and Technology. She is a keynote speaker and author of multiple books required in universities worldwide, including Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential and The Power of Perception: Eliminating Boundaries to Create Successful Global Leaders. Thinkers50 Radar, considered the Academy Awards for Leadership, chose her as one of the top minds in management and leadership.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) Studies GRIT in Graduates

Center for Women's Leadership
By Dr. Brandy Havens
As part of their ongoing commitment to bridging gender gaps and promoting equity in organizational leadership, the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) at the Forbes School of Business & Technology (FSBT) recently conducted a study to assess the role that GRIT, comprised of elements of passion and perseverance, plays in the success of women working-parent students.

At the UAGC May 2023 graduation in Phoenix, Arizona, representatives of the CWL surveyed more than 100 women graduates, 68.6% of whom identified as parents, and were graduating with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These graduates responded to ten prompts, originally developed by Angela Duckworth and published in her 2016 book, GRIT, the Power of Passion and Perseverance, designed to measure their GRIT based on the level to which they agreed with or identified with each prompt.

The results showed that parent graduates were slightly “grittier” than nonparent graduates in both passion and perseverance. Younger parents, those between 25 and 34 years of age, scored highest on the perseverance scale, while older parents, those between 55 and 64 years of age, scored highest on the passion scale. Perhaps the most interesting result occurred in a specific perseverance prompt: “Setbacks don’t discourage me.” Both parents and nonparents scored notably lower on this prompt compared with the other perseverance prompts, with parents scoring 37.3% lower and nonparents scoring 31.1% lower.

Understanding how passion and perseverance influence the success of women students places the CWL in a much better position to offer the resources, development opportunities, and community support that will be most beneficial for women students at UAGC.   

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

2023 University Fellows Program Roundtable Session 4

2023 University Fellows Program Roundtable Session 4

Each UAGC University Fellows Program Roundtable highlights one critical student goal and three recently completed UFP projects. Thursday, September 21st at 11 AM PT Critical Student Goal: Enhance students’ economic return Brandy Havens - Promoting GRIT in Online Women Students Karen Ivy - Applying Artificial Intelligence Toward Student Success Kelly Olson Stewart - Culture of Care: Exploring Perceptions of Support from UAGC Doctoral Students.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

University Fellows Research Roundtable Recordings (UFP) 2023

University Fellows Program offers up to $100K in grants per year for faculty engaged in research. The findings from such research support the University’s critical student goals such as

1. Retaining students during their first year of enrollment.
2. Supporting completion of programs and educational goals driven by student-based timelines.
3. Offering high value credential with marketable skills.
4. Enhancing students’ economic return.

The grants can be used for research assistants, materials and supplies, equipment, software, conferences, travel expenses, publication fees, and other research-related activities.

2023 UFP Roundtable Session 1

Video Description: Each UAGC University Fellows Program Roundtable highlights one critical student goal and three recently completed UFP projects. Thursday, August 10th at 11 AM PT Critical Student Goal: Retain students during their first year of enrollment Stephanie Fink - Making the C.A.S.E. : ePortfolio-Driven Design in the Liberal Arts. Holly Ourso - Live Learning Mathematics Expansion to Required Virtual Live Learning Mathematics Holly Lopez - ECE Retention Project


2023 UFP Roundtable Session 2

Video Description: Each UAGC University Fellows Program Roundtable highlights one critical student goal and three recently completed UFP projects. Thursday, August 24th at 11 AM PT Critical Student Goal: Support completion of programs and educational goals driven by student-based timelines Dan Tinianow - Expanding on immersive experiences for students and faculty Clifford Blizard - One Small Step to Lifelong Learning: Assessing the Short- and Long-Term Impacts of an Environmental Footprint Reduction Project on General Education University Students Wendy Conaway - Preparing for the Oral Defense: Enhancing Doctoral Students’ Public Speaking Skills.

2023 UFP Roundtable Session 3

Video Description: Each UAGC University Fellows Program Roundtable highlights one critical student goal and three recently completed UFP projects. Thursday, September 7th at 11 AM PT Critical Student Goal: Offer high-value credentials with marketable skills Tanya Mooney - The Impact of Student Study Hours: Perceived Perception of First-Year Student Success and Persistence Dan Tinianow - Supporting student success with interstitial skills courses Hwangji Lu - The Effectiveness of Implementing ePortfolio in a Capstone Course: A Case Study

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Congratulations to Dr. Karen Ivy – Fulbright Specialist

 “I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals, and I try to ignore the rest.”—Venus Williams

 Venus Williams and I share a winning passion in life… we focus on our goals!

I am excited to have recently received approval to be a Fulbright Specialist. This prestigious  awarded is granted by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and World Learning!  The Fulbright Program is a United States Cultural Exchange Program with the goal of improving intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy, and intercultural competence between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills.  

The Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. academics and established professionals to engage in two- to six-week, project-based exchanges at host institutions across the globe. This is a prestigious award, and I feel blessed to be chosen to represent the United States!

“As a Fulbright Scholar, I feel honored to have the opportunity to provide global impact on academic transformation for a host country!  This Fulbright collaboration aligns well with our UAGC mission and provides potential directions for future global collaborations for UAGC.”

My project focus with the host country will provide opportunities for global collaborations between UAGC students and students from the host country.  Structured with intent, my Fulbright program will support retention of students in their programs, enhance global  leadership skills, and provide global experiences and collaborations toward career preparation.

Dr. Karen Ivy

What do I look forward to during my time in the host country? Working on global teams with impact to academic transformation and student success!


     When we see the global world as one… we can achieve magnificent goals together!

            Dr. Karen Ivy,  Fulbright Specialist


Want to find out more about the Fulbright Program, visit: https://www.fulbrightprogram.org/

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Announcing UAGC Research Grants from the 2023-2024 University Fellows Program (UFP)

The research fellows Dr. Murad Abel, Dr. Hwangji Lu and administrator Stephanie Tweedie are proud to announce the 2023-2024 Grant Cycle!

UFP offers an annual funding allocation of $100,000 to support and promote faculty research and scholarship endeavors. It is essential to note that the grants awarded under this program are subject to a maximum limit of $10,000 per application or project.

2023-2024 Grant Cycle
24 proposal submissions
12- CAS
5- SGS
$171,00+ in requested funds 
15 Grants Awarded

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coffee Shop Lecture | ‘Words of Wisdom’ by Sarah Steinberg, Ed.D. (Interviewed by Dr. Murad Abel)

Dr. Steinberg shares her 'words of wisdom' to provide heartfelt advice to students. The production is part of the Coffee Shop Lecture at Forbes School of Business & Technology MBA Club as an avenue of connecting industry and academic knowledge to enhance student learning.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The Impact of Virtual Student Study Hours: Perceived Perception of First-Year Student Success and Persistence

Dr. Tanya Mooney LinkedIn

This study explored the perceived experiences of students who attended virtual Student Study Hours (SSH) for an entry point course.  The research questions ask 1) what perceived impact did SSH have on students’ experiences in GEN 103, 2) what impact did SSH have on students’ perceived success in GEN 103, 3) what impact did SSH have on retention and persistence after GEN 103, and 4) what perceived impact did SSH have on students’ self-reported persistence through UAGC courses. This study sought to gain a more in-depth understanding of how SSH supported student learning.

Participating Faculty: Dr. Tanya R. Mooney is an Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences in the Academic Engagement Center at the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC). As faculty, she has taught information literacy, early childhood education, educational psychology, and elementary education courses to develop undergraduate and graduate learners since 2008.

Dr. Mooney served in the United States Air Force for twelve years before entering the education profession in 2005. During her time in education, she has developed educational programs, created curriculum, wrote and received grants, taught elementary grades, reviewed programs, led accreditation efforts, contributed to textbooks, and served as a school principal. She has presented at national and international conferences and seeks to continually improve her teaching practice.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Culture of Care: Research Exploring Perceptions of Support from UAGC Doctoral Students


Retaining students and supporting them to the completion of their degree is an ongoing task for all colleges and universities. This is no less so for doctoral-level programs. This research identified the barriers and support structures for doctoral students at UAGC and explored how the tenets of a Culture of Care were received. Culture of Care is an institutional focus on compassion, inclusivity, and continuous effort to ensure all community members feel safe and supported. These practices practically may appear as instructors providing flexibility with deadlines, extending care and compassion, and individualizing the learning experience for students.

The current persistence rate for doctoral students at UAGC is between 42% and 50%. With institutional goals around student retention, completion of programs, high-value credentials with marketable skills, and enhanced student economic return, identifying the structures, strategies, and resources that doctoral students perceive as enhancing their ability to persist and the barriers that are challenging them will serve to improve the overall persistence and completion rates for doctoral students. This is collectively unknown or captured by the doctoral programs; therefore, these insights are not utilized in curriculum development decisions or considerations for additional doctoral support.

Data Collection

1,871 students were contacted, including actively enrolled, graduated, and those who stopped before completing. Of that number, 167 responded to the questionnaire, with just over an 11% response rate. Of the responses, 101 indicated that they were currently enrolled, 13 had graduated, and 30 had dropped out before completing their degree. Sixty-six respondents were from the program in education, 52 from psychology, 22 from organizational leadership and development, and 4 from health and human services.

Research Methods

A qualitative analysis of the survey data was performed, looking for themes noted by the participants. The themes informed a discussion of doctoral students' barriers and the supports that may help them overcome them. The open-ended responses from the surveys were analyzed using a thematic analysis process. This process identified themes or patterns that arose in the response data. This analysis gave the researchers an understanding of the perceptions of the participants. The analysis denoted themes contributing to understanding the students’ experiences who completed the survey.

Key Findings

Respondents were asked which entities were found to be most helpful during their time as doctoral students. The most mentioned items, selected from a list, were: academic advisors, instructors, library (tutorials, resources, staff), curriculum (text, readings, videos), classmates, and in-residence learning opportunities. Respondents noted how important their academic advisors were to them as they navigated the program. Students mentioned how inconsistent their instructor experience could be as they varied vastly between program courses and research courses. The least helpful noted by students chosen from the list were: student clubs and CHAMPS mentoring, a UAGC student-led mentoring organization.

In another question, respondents were asked to identify all the factors that supported them as students, and that enhanced their progress. The most highly selected from the list were: specific feedback on assignments, engaged instructors, evidence that instructors cared, flexibility with deadlines, and supportive comments in communication. Students valued their relationships with instructors and the genuine care they noted from this group. They additionally appreciated specific tips, strategies, and stories their instructors shared. They value the use of video and phone opportunities to connect as well. Students specifically have noted how much their classmates enhance their experience. Additionally, students noted the importance of specific, robust, and clear instructor feedback in their learning activities, along with clear course directions and examples.

When asked what prevented students from progressing toward the degree, the most common responses, chosen from a list, were: lack of time, family situations, finances, too much work from their employment, challenges with writing skills, and feelings of insecurity. Students referenced the isolation they experienced with a fully online program and missed connecting with classmates more regularly in-person or via Zoom. Students also noted that they struggled with selecting their topics for their dissertation or applied doctoral project (ADP) and wished they had been able to work on that much earlier in their programs. The challenge of navigating between their specific program and research courses as the course’s organization, tone, and design was radically varied. They also shared the struggle of inconsistency with their instructors. Some instructors were flexible, caring, and communicative, whereas others seemed vastly different in their expectations and communication. These instructors also provided significantly less feedback than the regarded ones, frustrating the students.


Students who completed the survey were generous in their responses to open-ended opportunities where they could highlight the supports they found most meaningful. These can be divided into the following themes: People, Resources, and Content. Under People, specific roles were noted as being supportive. These included advisors, Program Leads, Chairs and Committee Members, instructors, and classmates. The resources noted as most helpful were curriculum resources, the UAGC Library, and Writing Center, along with Paper Review and the In-Residences.

Additional factors that enhanced doctoral students’ progress included evidence that instructors genuinely cared for them, flexibility with deadlines and extended time, active instructors in the courses who provided specific feedback, and supportive texts and emails.

Overall, students found that what helped them the most was the people at UAGC; the technology enhanced their experience with relevant courses, and the Culture of Care was specifically noted. Students recognized that most of their instructors provided extraordinary care and flexibility, and built genuine relationships with them. Students noted how helpful engaging with instructors and classmates in the In-Residence was, though they complained about the Zoom format and length of these sessions. Additionally, students shared how important robust feedback in their online classrooms was to their overall success.

The challenges that students honed in on were those that were not in our locus of control, including personal finances, life situations (deaths, illness, job loss), and lack of time.

The challenges that UAGC could explore to help students in the doctoral program better include needing support around time management strategies, isolation from an online program, determining a topic for their ADP or dissertation sooner, academic writing challenges, design of the courses, and lack of consistency with instructors in research courses and their program courses, as well as instructors who are not demonstrating genuine care with robust feedback.


The implication or call to action that this survey provides can create a road map of considerations across all the doctoral programs at UAGC. Though this survey was not as well responded to as the researchers had hoped, relevant and consistent insights emerged from this group of students.

One of the ideas that were repeated in the qualitative comments was students’ frustration of not identifying a topic for their ADP or dissertation sooner. This caused students to linger in their Dissertation Planning I and II courses, fail these courses, or delay in their dissertation writing. Though students do attend three virtual In-Residences where they are asked after their fifth class to identify a topic to present to their classmates, there is no connection between this and their programs or an expectation to utilize this identified topic in their program coursework. PhD Education program has revised their curriculum to address this issue. However, it is important to note that students are not through their coursework yet to capture if this change has assisted in this issue and allowed students to move through dissertation writing faster. Ideally, it could address this issue if students could identify their topic and begin working on their research and writing in conjunction with their program coursework, along with utilizing the In-Residence as a writing and resource support session.

Another consideration is the inconsistency of the quality of feedback and engagement by faculty in the research courses compared to the program courses and within some of the programs. Associate Faculty teach 90% of doctoral courses. This factor makes training, communication, and support exceptionally important. Students denoted the differences in the care, communication, and engagement of Associate Faculty compared to the Fulltime Faculty. This consistency is a critical need across all the programs and in the research courses as well. Ongoing and systematic training could be a way to address some of the nuances, as well as regular oversight of these courses through observation, feedback, and evaluations. In doctoral writing, feedback on critical thinking, academic writing, and research skills is essential. Additional training with Associate Faculty is needed to ensure that students receive the highest quality feedback in every course.

An additional area that emerged as a need is around the isolation often felt in online programs and the desire from students to be connected and supported by faculty and classmates. The in-person In-Residence generated a bonding of students in these shared experiences and getting to know faculty and staff personally and professionally. With the shift in 2020 to all virtual In-Residences, generating this same level of bonding, organic conversation, hands-on writing support, and a cohort feel is more challenging. An overhaul of the structure of the In-Residence could remedy some of these challenges and perhaps mini workshops with the same cohorts could offer ongoing writing and research support. These could help provide a collegial experience and additional contact opportunities to reduce the feelings of isolation. Some social gatherings could also be added around the country in various locations to connect with staff and students in those areas each year. Another option could be the addition of a student doctoral club that meets regularly and provides a supportive atmosphere for students to connect and share their progress, and challenges, and encourage one another.

The importance of relationships in the doctoral program and journey cannot be overstated. The bond that students expressed with the Doctoral Student Advisors, as well as their Chairs and Committee Members, Program Chairs, and instructors, was a significant factor in the student’s success. The intentionality of care, flexibility, empathy, and generosity evident to the students from the staff and instructors they engaged with was noteworthy. The Culture of Care at UAGC is clear to students in the doctoral program. It is important to note that these traits were noted in the doctoral program even before the university’s roll-out of this program. The intentional building of relationships, and care for students as people with full working lives and families was recognized even before it had a label or title.

The curriculum is another highlight that students noted, and this includes resources to enhance the online experience, including the Library and Writing Center. Students did express frustration with some of the redundancy in the research courses and the lack of connection to their program courses. This could be a call to action to develop some vertical and horizontal curriculum alignment to ensure that key ideas, concepts, and strategies are threaded throughout the program courses and utilized in both. This would help to avoid students feeling like their research courses sit in silos without connection or application to the content courses. Additionally, if students identified their topics earlier and could begin their first three chapters earlier, it is more likely they could utilize the expertise of research faculty to shore up more robust and heartier dissertations and ADPs with greater understandings of theory and methodologies.


Kelly Olson Stewart, Ed.D., Program Chair Ph.D. Education, Associate Professor in the Department of Education & Liberal Arts, The University of Arizona Global Campus

Dr. Kelly Stewart is an Associate Professor and Program Chair for the Ph.D. in Education program in the Department of Education and Liberal Arts within the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arizona Global Campus. She earned a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Innovation with a specialization in Curriculum and Policy from Arizona State University, a Master of Education with a specialization in Educational Technology from Arizona State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an endorsement in K-12 Reading from Indiana University. 

Dr. Stewart started in Indiana as a middle school teacher.  Upon moving to Arizona, Kelly worked as a technology and curriculum specialist, a staff developer, a coach, an adjunct professor, and a district administrator.  Her passion and focus have been working with beginning teachers, developing sustainable systems for support, and mentoring programs.  Her area of research has been around the recruitment and retention of K-12 teachers.  Dr. Stewart’s most recent research is around developing virtual professional learning communities and support systems for online associate faculty.  Currently, she is conducting a research study on the impact of anti-transgender legislation on transgender and non-binary teens. 

Dr. Stewart currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona, with her husband, two kids, two dogs, and two turtles. Teaching and the kids’ activities consume most of Dr. Stewart’s time; however, she loves traveling to faraway lands, returning to the Midwest to visit friends and family, cheering for Notre Dame, reading, craft, and exploring vintage markets. She is a member of the Stewardship Council at her church and the Gender Proud Family Advisory Council through Phoenix Children's Hospital. 

Alan Belcher, Ph.D., Professor (Retired), Department of Education & Liberal Arts, The University of Arizona Global Campus

Dr. Alan Belcher is a retired Professor of Education and the Academic Engagement Center within the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arizona Global Campus. He earned a Doctorate of Education in Professional Studies with an emphasis in Instructional Design from Capella University, a Master of Education in School Administration from Marshall University, a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems from the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education with an endorsement in French and Spanish from Marshall University. 

Dr. Belcher spent 11 years as a teacher in a junior high school in West Virginia. He then moved to teach computer information systems at the University of Charleston, in West Virginia. During 23 years there, he also served as a Program Chair, Director of Assessment, Director of Academic Technology, Director of Institutional Research, Registrar, and Assistant Provost. His last position at that institution was as a grant-funded leader of professional development and technology integration. After two years as Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs at Pfeiffer University, he switched to online education at Ashford University, now the University of Arizona Global Campus. In research, he has focused on student achievement and success, along with a heavy interest in institutional change and faculty development. 

Dr. Belcher lives in South Carolina, with his wife. They have two grown children with five grandchildren. They spend time traveling to visit family and friends around the eastern United States.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Leveraging Our Forbes Partnership

Dr. Maja Zelihic
Dean FSBT at UAGC 2023
Avisha Sadeghinejad, Program Chair, Professional Studies, and Bill Davis, Program Chair, Organizational Studies

Since 2015, the Forbes brand has been an integral part of the Forbes School of Business and Technology® (FSBT). While Forbes is perhaps best known for its lists and rankings, including the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America and its Real-Time Billionaires rankings, Forbes also reaches more than 150 million people every month through its content solutions, showing professionals and students where business has been, where it is going, and how they can thrive in today’s—and tomorrow’s—global environment (Forbes Media LLC, 2023). According to Steve Forbes, chairman and editor in chief of Forbes Media, “This collaboration [with FSBT] is a natural extension of what Forbes has been doing for nearly 100 years: providing people with Information and insights to enable them to develop their own talent and become true entrepreneurs” (as cited in Daugherty, 2017).  

In all markets, a consumer’s perception of a brand is important. Brand names allow consumers to form attitudes and expectations about what the brand offers. With our first-year students specifically, the Forbes brand enables us to nurture a sense of belonging and ignite energy and excitement around being part of the business school at UAGC—check out our video We are The Forbes School of Business and Technology®! The Forbes brand also helps assure first-year students of the academic quality at UAGC. Forbes is a trusted source, and its content is either created by or features experienced experts in various fields. Forbes materials are known for their reliable and accurate information, diverse topics, and in-depth analysis and insights. Likewise, Forbes School of Business and Technology® students can expect their experienced faculty to design and deliver relevant, rigorous, and real-world business curricula.

The Forbes School of Business and Technology® is highly committed and dedicated to furthering student success and first-year retention. This includes prioritizing teacher-student relationships, showing genuine and honest interest in their success, and providing gratifying and meaningful learning. Our Forbes partnership is one tool, and UAGC faculty can leverage Forbes to equip students in the following ways.

Use Thought Leader Summit Content

In years’ past, the Forbes School of Business and Technology® has hosted its signature event, the Thought Leader Summit, where thought leaders, business advisers, C-suite executives, and other industry experts can come to discuss and analyze business trends from a cultural, economic, environmental, and technological perspective. The event typically features a keynote address and 5-year economic forecast from Steve Forbes, as well as other keynote speakers, panel discussions, and networking opportunities that provide attendees with a platform to connect with peers, exchange ideas, and learn from some of the most influential leaders in their industries. Last year, more than 1,000 attended the Summit, and the panel presentations and discussions were posted on the 2022 Thought Leader Summit website. Students and faculty can locate session highlights; enhanced video recordings of each session, including transcripts and table of content links; and full biographies for all speakers and panelists.

Faculty can help students get the most out of the Summit. Remember to

1.      Explore the Thought Leader Summit website and highlight relevant content you find beneficial for your students. Creating a supportive and caring environment can go a long way in student retention. Your voice matters!

2.      Utilize Thought Leader Summit videos and panel discussions in designing learning activities and assignments.

Use Forbes Content in the Classroom and Beyond

Each Forbes School of Business and Technology® faculty and student receives a Forbes.com subscription, which includes unlimited access to news, analysis, and insights in business, technology, leadership, entrepreneurship, innovation, investment, and other areas. Faculty already use Forbes articles and multimedia in their curriculum, learning activities, discussion forums, and even student clubs to further student learning, to stay current and relevant, and to foster a world-class business education. With that said, faculty can remember to

1.      Post relevant Forbes articles and multimedia in your announcements and reply posts. Pointing out real-world applications and expert analysis will take your students’ learning to higher levels and help students reevaluate their assumptions and think critically.

2.      Draw attention to the Forbes subscription and remind students to visit Forbes.com frequently to read, research, and use in their assignments as a credible resource.

Our UAGC vision is to provide high-quality, accessible, affordable, innovative, and educational programs that meet the diverse needs of individuals pursuing advancement in their lives, professions, and communities. Our partnership with Forbes does just that and it helps our students gain valuable insights, knowledge, and skills and it equips them for future success.


Forbes Media LLC. (2023, March 8). Forbes audience. Forbes.com. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/connect/audience-2/

Daugherty, R. (2017, March). Forbes School of Business and Technology [Presentation]. 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Forbes School of Business & Technology Professors, Dr. Avisha Sadeghinejad and Bill Davis create “Learning in Practice” website.

Professors Dr. Avisha Sadeghinejad and Bill Davis are sharing their knowledge and expertise with students and alumni at the University of Arizona Global Campus through a series of short articles on their “Learning in Practice” website. These short, easy-to-digest articles, each taking only 3 to 4 minutes to read, are designed to pass on meaningful tips, insights, research, and real-world applications in areas such as marketing, management, leadership, teamwork, and more.

It is a tool they designed to further student and alumni success. They are paying their knowledge, research, experiential learning, and wisdom forward for all in an efficient and effective manner.

 Here is the website designed to showcase their articles (body of work). It is called “Learning in Practice”: https://learninginpractice.my.canva.site/

Dr. Avisha Sadeghinejad

Dr. Avisha Sadeghinejad is a Professor and Program Chair at the Forbes School of Business and Technology at University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC). She holds a Doctoral degree in Business Administration from Golden Gate University. She also holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Sharif University of Technology, and the Digital Marketing Analytics certificate from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Certified e-Marketing, and Certified Social Marketing Associate certifications from the eMarketing Association.

Dr. Avisha Sadeghinejad

At Forbes School of Business and Technology and along with teaching, she has led the development of the BA in Marketing (BAM) and the MA in Marketing (MAM) programs, and has designed and developed several graduate and undergraduate courses with an innovative and engaging approach. Some of her course designs have won awards from the Association for Distance Education and Independent Learning (ADEIL) and the International E-Learning Association. She has served as a member of the UAGC Faculty Council, and currently serves the Center for Women’s Leadership at the Forbes School of Business and Technology as an advisory council member.

Dr. Sadeghinejad has also several years of global industry experience where she practiced strategic marketing, email marketing, video-email marketing, marketing automation, brand management, market research, and market analysis. A few well-known global brands that she handled are NestlĂ©® of Switzerland, NUK® of Germany (products for nursing mothers, babies and children) and Familia® Muesli of Switzerland (Breakfast granola).

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, gardening, reading books, and practicing piano, and Persian calligraphy.

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/avishasadeghinejad/

Email: avisha.sadeghinejad@uagc.edu

Avisha’s Bio page at UAGC: https://www.uagc.edu/about/faculty/avisha-sadeghinejad

Professor Bill Davis

Professor Bill Davis
Bill Davis has extensive experience and education in all aspects of business: consultant, management, leadership, sales, marketing, strategic planning, human resources, and organizational change. He has over three decades of experience working in the beverage industry, specifically in the PepsiCo system, a Fortune 500 company, serving in front, middle management, and executive level leadership positions.

Bill is a pracademic who successfully transitioned his highly successful career into academia. He has over 18 years of extensive academic experience serving as a program chair, lead faculty, assistant professor, core faculty, instructor, instructional specialist, instructional specialist manager, and associate faculty. He loves furthering student learning and seeing student success. Here is Bill’s Biography: https://www.uagc.edu/about/faculty/bill-davis

and his LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/billdavisforbes/

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

What Does it Take to Launch a Start Up: MBA Club and MBA Faculty Discuss

The MBA Club on Linked Hosted a Coffee Shop Interview with the Owner of Go Prama to discuss how to create a start-up. It was a great opportunity for faculty and industry to collaborate to help students learn from experienced practitioners. Host is Dr. Murad Abel. You may want to stay in contact with the LinkedIn MBA Club

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Collaborative Project and ePortfolio: The Impacts of High-Impact Practices in Online Learning

Clinical care has become more complex and specialized in the U.S. healthcare delivery system. No longer is one specific health professional responsible for the patient's health outcomes. A healthcare team comprises multidisciplinary professionals such as doctors, nurses, and other health professionals from various specialties who work together, communicate often, and share resources. Researchers have found that team-based care can reduce medical errors and increase health care safety, efficiency, and quality. Team training is a critical part of healthcare management education. Learning the fundamentals of teamwork, collaborative care, and effective communication within healthcare management curricula helps students be better prepared for real-world situations. Especially in the online classrooms, students do not feel isolated because they support each other in the learning process and rely on each other to acquire new knowledge, solve a problem, complete a task, or create a product in a collaborative project. If any team members are behind in their studies, they could perform better eventually because of collaborative learning.

Many higher education institutions have incorporated high-impact practices (HIPs) acknowledged by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) to improve student engagement and success. HIPs are a collection of teaching and learning strategies that positively impact student learning and promote deep learning by enhancing student engagement. Compared to those students who did not, students who participated in any impact practices demonstrated higher commitment and more desirable learning outcomes, leading to increased retention, completion, and satisfaction rates. HIPs are necessary for helping educational institutions ensure access, equity, and quality of courses. Collaborative projects and e-portfolios are among 11 high-impact educational practices endorsed by AACU. The use of multiple HIPs has been proven as beneficial educational modalities in understanding and applying concepts and theories of disciplines. This revised course includes a quality improvement collaborative project from week one to week six and an ePortfolio learning activity for students to start their baby steps building their ePortfolios.

Research Method

Course evaluation is the key approach to improving the course quality we offer in the program. After this revised course was implemented, there were inevitably opportunities for improvement. Triangulation from various sources is always the best option to confirm the findings. The study population comprised adult learners who enrolled in this redesigned course after this course was implemented at the first year. The instructors who had taught this course during the same time period were also included in the study population. The information gathered from in-house student and instructor surveys provided valuable information that could be used to inform course redesign. Finally, artifacts collected from classes were the best sources for triangulation.

Key Findings

The survey item, ‘this course increased my knowledge in healthcare’ received the highest score. About 87% of surveyed students agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. Although most of our students are mid-aged frontline healthcare professionals, they learned a lot from this course because the course material is full of practical knowledge. One student commented, “This course went more in-depth about QI and associated topics than I had.” Similarly, another student stated, “I knew a lot beforehand but it enhanced my knowledge.”

Earning four certificates from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) received the second highest score at 82.5%. Students voiced positively about the value of getting the certificates. The IHI certificates not only helped students learn better in this course but also prepared them for dealing with real-world issues. Here are some examples of students’ feedback. “These certifications provided real-world examples for the material we were learning which will be extremely beneficial in the workforce and in the classroom.” “The IHI certificates were worth the time and knowledge needed for the course.” “I enjoyed the IHI certificates. I thought they were a good enhancement to the course.” “Yes, it was a great tool and very excited to list these certificates on my resume.”

Among all survey items, the collaborative project obtained the lowest score. Only 55% of surveyed students felt that the collaborative project helped them learn to work with peers having different backgrounds and experiences to solve problems in a healthcare organization. Some students had a positive attitude toward the collaborative project and felt it benefited them. On the contrary, other students had negative attitudes towards the collaborative project due to the lack of participation from their team members, different time zones/work schedules, and unequal distribution of group work. Positive comments include, “I really enjoyed this part of the course. It was nice to hear from others and get their feedback.” and “I enjoyed working with my team members. Especially my team leader is a great leader who reminded us of things to do in 6 weeks and made sure that we were on the same page.” Negative comments include, “The project was not collaborative. It was workload heavy for 1 person.” and “The collaborative project was a good experience and it did allow us to focus on teamwork, but it can be difficult when everyone is not on the same work schedule. Some team members did not participate as much as others.”

Prior research showed that students who participated in group work in online courses were likely to be less satisfied with the overall experience and possessed a more negative perception when compared to those who took part in the face-to-face format. Favor and Kupl found that 38% of online MBA students preferred to work in a team, and 39% believed teams increased their learning. In addition, two of the most frequently cited challenges of teamwork are free riding and unequal workload distribution. In Smith et al’s study, 65.9% of graduate students felt positive about the group assessment. Thus, the finding (55%) regarding students’ perception of a collaborative project from our study falls between these two empirical studies.

All surveyed instructors offered positive opinions regarding this revised course. Several instructors expressed the need for teamwork in the healthcare administration program. “Team concept helps them to collaborate.” “Because they are in teams, they were more apt to give feedback to their team members, as it may have a direct impact on their final project.” “The activities allowed students to critically think about all aspects of quality improvement. Having students in groups enhanced engagement in discussions throughout the learning week. Students expressed positive experiences with group activities.”

Working on a collaborative project in the online classroom can be exciting, challenging, and rewarding. Performing a team project without the physical presence of team members in online courses may present an additional challenge as students are in different time zones and work schedules, leading to increased difficulty in setting deadlines and developing team dynamics. Students resisted a team-based project in the online classroom because they did not have time to collaborate effectively or because there was an underachiever on their team for whom they would have to compensate. Although many challenges are inherent in collaborative learning in the online classroom, there are compelling reasons to overcome the difficulties and make collaborative learning a fruitful learning experience. For instance, incorporating the Group Work Contract and peer-review could be the solutions to reduce students’ anxiety and frustration, resulting in better collaboration and learning experiences.


Dr. Hwangji Lu
Dr. Hwangji “Sherrie” Lu is a Core Faculty member in the Master of Arts in Health Care Administration Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arizona Global Campus. Prior to this post, she had over 25 years of professional experience in various industries — inside and outside the health care arena. Dr. Lu holds two master’s degrees in nutrition from North Dakota State University and health services administration from Center Michigan University. She earned her Ph.D. in management with a specialization in leadership and organizational change from Walden University. Dr. Lu has served as a peer reviewer for several international conferences and peer-reviewed journals. Additionally, she is an advisory member for the Institute of Research Engineers and Scientists, the International Society for Engineering Research and Development, and the Universal Conferences Institute. Her research interests include high-impact educational practices, student engagement in online learning, educational technology, course evaluation, and leadership development.

Dr. Robert Smiles

Dr. Robert Smiles is the Program Lead in the Master of Arts in Health Care Administration Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arizona Global Campus. He obtained a Ph.D. in health care administration with a specialization in organizational change resistance from Capella University, a master’s degree in health care administration from Bellevue University, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Maryland. He started his career as a regional marketing and admissions director for a long-term care organization in middle Tennessee, then began working as an adjunct professor with Ashford (now UAGC) in 2011. His research interests include student success, student engagement, and high impact practices.

Contact Information

Dr. Hwangji Lu at hwangji.lu@uagc.edu; Dr. Robert Smiles at Robert.smiles@uagc.edu

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