Working Together: The Context of Teams in an Online MBA Program


  • Martha A. Gabriel
  • Colla J. MacDonald



The purpose of this study was to explore learning in an online MBA program and the structures necessary to support and enhance that learning from the perspective of the learners. This qualitative study was multi-method in nature, and included in-depth interviews (the focus of this report) with ten of the 32 learners who participated in the study, as well as a document review of course transcripts. Findings indicated that the collaborative nature of the teamwork required in this web-based MBA program provided major benefits as well as challenges for the learners in this program. Benefits included decreased feelings of isolation, the development of support systems, authentic "real world" learning, and an improved ability to communicate clearly online. Challenges included learning how to deal with the different learning styles, academic goals, and varying time commitments to the program of various team members. Learners recognized the pace of the online work, the requirements for technical competence, and the need for alternative communication links as other factors in their learning experience. Learners also identified a strong perception of academic efficacy, and an affirmation of their own individual growth and development through their work in the online MBA program.