Econometric Study of Time Use and Scores in Online MBA Statistics Class: A Gender Analysis

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ABSTRACT

Improved Student learning is the ultimate goal of educators and is generally measured in terms of scores earned in the course. Students themselves must also dedicate adequate hours to the course. The present study provides evidence that a student's final grade is closely linked to the hours spent in the course, especially with regard to online statistic courses. This study uses actual recorded online time use of students instead of self reported surveys used in most studies in the relevant literature. Moreover, the models use actual scores instead of the letter grades which hide a lot of information by converting the ratio scale variable to discrete ordinal variable. As a result, this study could use Constant elasticity and Decreasing Elasticity Mixed Dummy Multiple Regression models assuming that online time use is an objectively measurable good indicator of overall effort by students in online classes. The evidences suggest that there is a significant reward for additional effort, especially at the lower levels of times use and scores. The Constant Elasticity model predicts a 4.3% improvement in existing score for additional 10% increase in online time use for male students. For female students the improvement is expected to be only about 2.5% in existing score. The gender difference is highly significant statistically in the Constant Elasticity model. The decreasing Elasticity model is not only theoretically more appealing but also most successful in explaining variations in the scores, although the gender difference gets dampened and loses some of its statistical significance in this model. According to this model, a 10% increase in online time use for male students with minimal online time use (about 9.2 hours over the semester), is expected to improve the existing score by 3.8% of existing score. For a similar female student the predicted improvement is 3.1% of existing score. As the level of time use increases to the mean level (76.4 hours over the semester), the elasticity for male students drops to 0.05 indicating that a 10% increase in time use would be expected to improve existing score only by 0.5%. The gender difference at higher levels of time use becomes very small. The results of this study are particularly significant for students with low online time use. Instructors should encourage such students to significantly increase their effort as it promises much larger reward at the lower end of time use. Although few students can and have achieved high scores despite their low online time use, it is clear from the data that very low online time use is a good predictor of low scores with few exceptions. This research can be extended by including other objectively measurable attributes and also covering other subjects.

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INTRODUCTION

Online MBA is relatively a recent but exponentially expanding phenomenon. The factors contributing to students' success in this online paradigm is topic of recurrent interest for Higher Education Administrators, Academicians, Communities and Students. There have been several studies in the relevant literature which attempt to identify and quantify the relationships of various factors with students' academic performance/achievement. But there is a dearth of econometric study of the impact of the single most important key factor, namely, students' effort measured by online time use, on students' performance with a gender perspective, especially for graduate students. In the literature pertaining to student participation and effort, most studies have concentrated on the simple measure of attendance. Many studies have found that class attendance positively affects performance across various subjects. For example, Devadoss and Foltz (1996) for Agricultural Economics; Schmidt (1983), Park and Kerr (1990), Romer (1993), Durden and Ellis (1995), Ellis and Durden (1998) and Cohn and Johnson (2006) for Economics; Chan et al. …